The Ole Miss soccer team will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, this weekend for a pair of matches against UConn and Florida Atlantic. The Rebels are looking to make final adjustments before heading into conference play at Alabama next Thursday.
The tournament this weekend will feature two neutral-site matches for the Rebels, who have a 5-1 record this season. The Rebels will first battle a struggling UConn team at 4 p.m. Friday.
The Huskies are 1-5 on the year after losing several star players and bringing in a new coaching staff this season. The lack of stability in their attack has the Huskies looking for some momentum coming into the match amid a three-game losing streak.
Barring an upset, Ole Miss should take care of business in its first game, especially if the red-hot Rebel offense can keep form and exploit a defense that has already given up 14 goals on the season. Head coach Matt Mott isn’t counting out his opponents, but his confidence about the match is clear.
“I don’t think we’ve ever played UConn, which will be a great test for them,” Mott said. “Traditionally a great team, they’ve been to a number of Final Fours — always a strong team there.”
The Rebels return to the pitch at 10:30 a.m. Sunday for a test against the FAU Owls, who are 2-4 this season.
However, the Owls should not be taken for granted solely based on their record: Two of their defeats have come at the hands of Florida and Baylor, both top-25 ranked teams. FAU didn’t fall easily in either match. The team showed that it could create chances against No. 7 Florida and came away with two goals in the match. The Owls went on to hold No. 17 Baylor to one goal in a nail-biter last week.
“(FAU) is always a very good team, as well,” Mott said.
Heading into the weekend, Mott is confident in his team after its commanding performance in last weekend’s Jaguar Classic in Mobile, Alabama. The Rebels swept the tournament with convincing wins over Troy and South Alabama, scoring seven combined goals during the two matches.
“I like the way our team is playing,” Mott said. “And (we’ve had) a lot of good performances, especially (from) our midfield.”
Senior forward CeCe Kizer leads the NCAA in goals this year with seven, after adding two to her total during the Jaguar Classic. The high-powered attack of the Rebels has hit its stride hard and early and shows no signs of letting up.
Coach Mott feels he can depend on the team’s depth as the Rebels attempt to extend their three-game win streak and jump into conference play with a good pace. With players like Kizer leading the squad, he has reason to be optimistic.
“It’s the deepest team I’ve ever had,” Mott said at a press conference on Monday. “We’re getting 15, 16 and 17 players in each game, which is really helping us and should help us as we get into conference play.”
As conference play approaches, keeping the team’s form hot will be key. Getting wins over beatable teams this weekend will go a long way toward putting up strong performances in SEC play and making a case for landing in the national rankings.