The No. 20 Ole Miss women’s soccer team has experienced many “firsts” lately.
The Rebels will play their first home conference game against the University of Georgia Bulldogs at 7 p.m. tonight with the hopes of getting their first SEC victory of the 2017 season.
They also faced their first and only loss of the season in their recent match against the Florida Gators. In their 1-0 loss last Thursday, the Rebels saw seven of their 15 players play in their first SEC game, which was a big milestone for not only those players but the whole team.
“We had a lot of girls all get their first taste of the SEC and their first taste with the top team in Florida traditionally,” head coach Matt Mott said in a press conference Monday night. “I am not one for moral victories, but in that game, I think we grew a lot.”
With nine games left in the season, Ole Miss wants to continue to grow, looking in particular to its game against the 4-4-1 Bulldogs. With Georgia holding the all-time advantage in the series, dating back to 1996, Ole Miss is hoping to avenge the road loss from last season.
“They beat us at Georgia last year 3-0 in a game where they really dominated us, so we need to be ready for them,” Mott said.
Mott said he knows the Bulldogs will be a challenge for his team tonight, just like they were last year.
“They are a good team, very organized, with very good athletes,” Mott said. “I have a lot of respect for their coach, and they will be a good team for us on Thursday night.”
Despite its perfect season being tarnished by the loss against Florida and a tie against Michigan earlier in the season, Mott said he believes this may be the best team he’s seen in his eight seasons of coaching.
“The way we are playing, the style we are playing and the way we are defending, we have only given up two goals this year at this point, which is really good for us with 38 goals that we have scored,” Mott said. “There have been years when we have been really good in the front or in the back, but I think this year I feel really good about both sides of the ball.”
The stats point to the fact that Ole Miss is truly one of the best in the nation so far this season. Through nine contests, Ole Miss soccer is near the top of the NCAA in nearly every offensive category, including 38 goals (second), points (104 — second), while also ranking second nationally in points per game (11.56) and scoring offense (4.22).
But the Rebels will have to continue to prove themselves if they want to hold up to Mott’s expectations. After taking on the Bulldogs, Ole Miss heads to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where it will face the 6-4 University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Mott said he’s excited to see what his team does tonight.
“They are very dangerous in the attack and tough to breakdown,” Mott said. “Those guys do a great job up there in their system, so we need to be ready for them, but overall, I feel good about where the team is.”