Forbus shines, Merritt earns SEC defensive honors in opening weekend

Posted on Aug 23 2016 - 8:01am by Sam Harres

(Photo courtesy Josh Mccoy)

Addie Forbus wasted no time making an impact in the 2016 season. The Ole Miss forward followed up her two-goal performance against the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns with another pair of goals on Sunday against Northwestern State. The Rebels won both games by a score of 3-0 as Ole Miss women’s soccer improved to 2-0 on the season.

Friday’s game was a classic demonstration of how a good offense can be the best defense. The Rebels kept the Ragin’ Cajuns largely pinned down into their own half as they struggled to create any chances, registering just four shots, none of which were on goal. After Forbus scored her first goal in the first minute and then her second just 14 minutes later, Bella Fiorenzo entered the game and drastically changed it as she struck an absolute dinger from 30 yards out into the top left corner of the UL-Lafayette net. From that point on, the Rebels were able to manage the game until final whistle while avoiding any trouble from the Ragin’ Cajun front line. As the game progressed, it became clear just how talented the Ole Miss front line can be.

“If we can get the ball to those front guys, we’re dangerous,” said Head Coach Matt Mott after beating UL-Lafayette on Friday.

He was right. Ole Miss executed that game plan yet again on Sunday as the Rebels routed Northwestern State a brace from Forbus and a solo goal from Gretchen Harknett. It was Harknett’s first of the season, coming off a five goal year in 2015. She opened the scoring 18 minutes into the game off a cross from Georgia Russell.

Sophomore CeCe Kizer, reigning SEC Freshman of the Year, put in yet another strong effort as she took five shots on goal, one of which was on target. While she may not always show up on the score sheet, her ability to consistently create chances has made the Rebel offense dangerous at all times. She is the metaphorical “engine” driving the team forward.

“I was happy with our movement, our forwards’ movement and our creation of chances, creating shots; obviously we had 31 shots so that was good,” said Mott, who returned for his seventh season this year.

While goals may have dominated the headlines throughout the season thus far, the lack of goals being scored against the Rebels has not gone unnoticed.

Sophomore Marnie Merritt was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for her back-to-back shutouts. Merritt is no stranger to such recognition: She also won it back in October of 2015. Her presence behind the Ole Miss defensive line has been reassuring and her ability to lead through her play and her voice makes her an invaluable asset to this squad. Merritt is now ranked No. 4  in Ole Miss goalkeeper history with a one goal per game average and a total of nine shutouts in 25 games.

Ole Miss returns to action at home against Memphis at 7 p.m. Friday.