The 24th-ranked Ole Miss soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last Friday with a 1-0 victory over Murray State. They will attempt to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history this Friday, when they travel to Clemson to take on the 7th-ranked Tigers. The time of the match has not yet been announced.
The Rebel offense broke a two-game scoring drought with a goal in the second minute against Murray State, but overall their inefficiency in front of goal continued. They took 21 shots in the game, but many of them were from outside the box and didn’t trouble the goalkeeper.
“It was a game where you would have liked to have a few more goals, but in soccer you really only need one,” said Matthew Mott, Ole Miss head coach, at his weekly press conference.
The defense picked up the slack, holding the Racers to just four shots, and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt only had to make one save.
Both sides of the ball will need to play well in order for the Rebels to take down Clemson, who finished third in the ACC, widely considered the best soccer conference in the country.
Clemson is coming off a 3-0 victory over So-Con conference champion Furman in the first round. Three different Tigers got on the board, with sophomore forwards Shannon Horgan and Miranda Weslake and junior midfielder Abby Jones getting on the board. The Tiger defense held Furman to just two shots and junior goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan did not have to make a save.
The Tiger defense was one of the best in the ACC, led by Sheridan, an All-ACC first-teamer who was second in the conference with seven shutouts.
Four more Tigers earned All-ACC honors: junior midfielder Catrina Atanda was named second-team All-ACC, Jones and junior defender Claire Wagner were named to the All-ACC third team, and freshman defender Sam Staab was named to the All-Freshman team.
Mott and his team know that they have their work cut out for them.
“They are very dangerous up front,” Mott said. “They have a couple of special forwards and their attacking midfielder is very dangerous. They are very organized in the back with an excellent goalkeeper who kicks the ball very well. Clemson is solid in every position.”
The Rebels are happy with the company they keep, but they want to keep their season alive.
“They will be prepared and we will be too,” Mott said. “I think Friday will be a very exciting game. Our team is in a good spot and we’re looking forward to this next match.”