For the second consecutive year, Ole Miss Women’s Soccer head coach Matt Mott has led the Rebels to the NCAA Women’s College Cup. Ole Miss’ first-round match will take place Saturday against the Clemson Tigers. The Rebels finished the season at 12-7-1, while the Tigers finished 12-8-0.
The two teams last met in the 2015 College Cup, where the Rebels eliminated Clemson in penalty kicks to make it to their first Sweet 16 in school history. Ole Miss takes the field for the College Cup following a lackluster showing in the SEC Tournament against Arkansas. The game against the Razorbacks ended the Rebels’ three-game win streak, as well as their clean sheet streak, but Ole Miss still made the cut for the College Cup.
“I think late in the season, we won three out of the last four, which was massive,” head coach Matt Mott told olemisssports.com prior to the selection show. “I think the way we were playing the last ten games, being 5-4-1, makes me feel really good about the spot we are in. Based on precedent and history, I think we look really good.”
The Clemson Tigers are also coming off of a loss in their conference tournament, having lost to the North Carolina Tarheels 1-0 in the semifinals of the ACC tournament on Nov. 2.
The Rebels hope to return to form on defense in order to beat Clemson. While the 4-0 scoreline in their previous contest looks bad on paper, the Rebels’ last game wasn’t nearly as lopsided as it appears. Ole Miss gave up three goals in the opening 10 minutes of that game, with two of those goals coming from unfortunate deflections.
“We got run over a little bit by Arkansas,” Mott said. “One of the goals was an own goal, a mistake by us. The other two were deflections. So, it started out 3-0 seven minutes into the game. They just ran over us, forcing us back on our heels. We could not respond.”
Morgan McAslan will get her sixth career start in goal and hopes to continue her strong performance this season. The freshman has earned three clean sheets through her previous five starts for the Rebels.
Ole Miss’ high-powered offense should put the team in a good position to beat Clemson and advance to the second round. The burden of scoring goals will likely fall onto the shoulders of senior CeCe Kizer who leads the team in scoring and assists, with 13 and eight, respectively.
Sophomore Channing Foster and freshman Haleigh Stackpole have also put away goals at a decent clip, combining for 13 this season. Their totals make them the second and third leading goal scorers for the Rebels this season.
Junior Gabby Little and sophomore Grace Johnson are tied for second on the team in assists with four apiece. The two can be an important part of connecting that crucial final pass in this game for the Rebels.
Ole Miss has rallied around goalkeeper Marnie Merritt, who was injured in the regular season victory against Arkansas. The team has performed well since Merritt’s injury, with their standout performance coming in the 1-0 victory against regular season SEC champions Vanderbilt on senior night.
If Ole Miss comes away with a victory on Saturday, the Rebels will play the winner of the Stanford and Seattle matchup. Stanford is one of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament alongside Georgetown, Florida State and North Carolina.