Column: Kizer, Ole Miss Soccer rolling early

Posted on Aug 23 2018 - 5:50am by Josh Gollihar

Head coach Matt Mott’s Rebels have opened their season with two clean-sheet performances. Ole Miss displayed its potent offensive attack by tallying 10 total goals against Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Kentucky. New arrivals made their mark on the scoresheet, but the familiar faces have risen to the top.

Senior forward CeCe Kizer has received national recognition for her abilities. She was included on the preseason watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is presented to the most outstanding player in all of college soccer. Kizer’s early season work reinforces her inclusion on this list.

CeCe Kizer prepares to kick a goal against Northwestern State. File photo by Taylar Teel

The Rebels’ top scoring threat already has four goals to her name, including a hat trick in Sunday’s win against Western Kentucky. Factoring in her one assist, Kizer has a direct hand in half of the team’s goals. Her performance earned her SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

The accolades do not stop there. TopDrawerSoccer named Kizer to its Team of the Week, and United Soccer Coaches tabbed Kizer as the first-ever Rebel to win National Player of the Week. If the first week has any bearing on the rest of the Rebels’ 2018 campaign, Kizer is poised to have a big year.

Though Kizer has dominated the pitch in Oxford for years now, Mott has a host of new players who are ready to produce. Sophomore Florida State transfer Madisyn Pezzino found the back of the net twice in her first weekend as a Rebel. She trails only Kizer in goals and shots for the Rebels. Freshman midfielder Haleigh Stackpole’s ability to control the offense led to her adding a goal and an assist. Newcomers Sydney Michalak and Madison Smith each tallied a goal over the weekend, as well.

For Mott, there is a possibility for a successful season. The Rebels have experience at all three levels of the formation — Kizer up top, captain Gabby Little in midfield and veteran goalkeeper Marnie Merritt leading from the back.

Mott’s incorporation of transfers and younger players into his system has left the team overlooked: the SEC Coaches Poll tabbed the Rebels to finish seventh in the conference. However, the finishing ability of this roster is absolutely lethal.

If Kizer continues to play like a national player of the week, the goals will continue to come. The star power she brings to the Rebels has Ole Miss poised to make a far-deeper run in the SEC and NCAA tournaments than critics have predicted early on, and Kizer has the supporting cast to keep up the pace.