The Rebels came out kicking in their season opener against Alabama State on Friday night with an 8-0 win over the Alabama State Hornets.
Junior forward CeCe Kizer led Ole Miss with a hat trick in the first 30 minutes to set the tone for the rest of the game. Coach Matt Mott said Kizer is back this season and better than ever.
“She battled a couple injuries last year but had a great spring that carried into fall camp,” Mott said. “In pre-season she was just dynamite.”
And Kizer sure did explode on the field. She first scored four minutes into the first half and then twice more to solidify an early lead.
“I thought we came out really strong,” Kizer said. “We got a lot of opportunities offensively and were very organized defensively, which gave us a lot of scoring opportunities that we capitalized on.”
A new season also means new legs on the field, and this quick lead in the first half allowed more than 20 Ole Miss rostered players to see the field throughout the rest of the game. Firing off a whopping 35 shots compared to the Hornets’ four shots over the 90 minutes of play, the Rebels saw firsthand that with many shots come many goals.
In addition to Kizer’s hat trick, Grace Johnson, Alyssa Frazier, Alley Houghton, Mary Kate Smith and Emily Holten also saw their shots hit the back of the net. Johnson, Frazier, Smith and Holten celebrated these first goals of their college carriers.
Sophomore forward Alley Houghton was another big contributor to the explosive offense the Rebels brought to the field Friday night. She not only had a goal of her own but also led in assists, stacking up four of them throughout the game.
Although the Rebels came out on top, they took some time at the start of each half to find their rhythm due to “nervous legs,” as coach Mott put it. After Kizer’s initial goal, it was another 25 minutes before she scored again, followed by four more goals, sending Ole Miss into halftime with a 6-0 lead. The second half gave reprise to this pattern, beginning with 15 minutes of scoreless Rebels.
But once the Rebels did find their groove, they were able to make things happen. Coach Mott said he knows they will bring intensity and energy every time they step on the field.
“I know this team has what it takes to be a dangerous team all year long,” Mott said.
The Rebels will soon have a chance to prove themselves not only to Mott but other teams outside of their conference as well. They return to the pitch at home against Michigan on Friday.