Magnolia Cup on the Line in Regular Season Finale

Magnolia Cup on the Line in Regular Season Finale


• Ole Miss is coming off of a 2-2 draw with No. 19 Auburn Sunday afternoon in Oxford.

Molly Martin scored her team-high ninth goal of the season to give the Rebels a brief lead, while Haleigh Stackpole buried the equalizer for her fifth goal of the year.

Ashley Orkus made seven saves against the Tigers, tied for a season high for the Rebel keeper.

• With the point gained from the draw, Ole Miss sits in third in the SEC table with 19 points.

• The Rebels will close out the regular season on the road on Thursday, taking on Mississippi State for the Magnolia Cup.

• Ole Miss will look to regain control of the rivalry trophy following last season’s 1-0 loss in Oxford. It was the first time in seven years that the Rebels relinquished possession of the cup.

• The match will air on the SEC Network, the third national TV game of the season for Ole Miss.

• Ole Miss slipped spots to No. 16 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll.

• Ole Miss moved down three spots in the College Soccer News top-30, falling from No. 19 to No. 22.

• The Rebels are ranked 11th in the most recent NCAA RPI report.


James Armstrong is in his third season as the head coach at Mississippi State, moving to Starkville after six seasons on the staff at Auburn. During his first two seasons, Armstrong led the Bulldogs to back-to-back eight-win seasons, ending Mississippi State’s 15-year SEC Tournament drought in his first season in 2019.

Mississippi State sits at 4-8-3 on the season, including 2-6-1 in league play. All four of the Bulldogs’ wins have come in Starkville, posting a 4-3-0 home record. MSU is coming off of a 2-0 road loss to SEC regular season champion Arkansas on Sunday after defeating Texas A&M 2-1 in Starkville on Thursday.

Five different players are tied for the team lead with two goals this season, with junior Onyi Echegini leading the pack with four assists for eight total points. Despite making just seven starts, senior Hailey Farrington-Bentil ranks second on the team with seven points on two goals and three assists.

Sophomore Maddy Anderson has seen all the action in goal for the Bulldogs, recording a 1.09 goals against average and a .788 save percentage on 63 saves, posting four clean sheets.


Ole Miss owns a commanding 15-7-5 lead in the all-time series with Mississippi State, winning five of the last eight matchups with the Bulldogs. However, Mississippi State came out on top in the most recent meeting, claiming the Magnolia Cup for the first time in seven years. The Rebels are 5-3-3 all-time in Starkville, last earning a win at the MSU Soccer Field in 2014.


OXFORD, Miss. –
  After falling behind in the first half, Ole Miss made a ferocious attempt to equalize Friday night at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium but were unable to break through, falling to the Bulldogs 1-0.

Mississippi State took the lead in the 20th minute as Monigo Karnley was set up off a short corner play by Onyi Echegini and Birna Johannsdottir, with Karnley finishing into the left corner.

Ole Miss had a trio of chances to equalize in short order before the end of the half. The first came off the right boot of Haleigh Stackpole in the 33rd minute, who used some quick feet to open a pocket of space before firing her shot wide. The Rebs then nearly took advantage of a corner of their own in the 35th minute but Molly Martin’s header was cleared off the line and Ramsey Davis also had her shot on the rebound deflected wide and out.

Coming out of the break the Rebels threw numbers forward. Not long after the intermission, Stackpole charged forward on a lung-busting run and finished with a hard shot at goal. However, the attempt was too straight and was saved with relative ease.

Ashley Orkus made a terrific stop in the 65th minute to keep Ole Miss in the match, tipping an attempt that seemed destined for the corner of the goal wide and out for a corner, which was eventually cleared.

With about 10 minutes to go, the Rebels put everything they had into the attack looking to pull even. The best look of the night for Ole Miss fell to the feet of Channing Foster in the 80th minute but the senior’s snap shot was mere inches wide of the left post. Some beautiful buildup play a minute later nearly set up Stackpole but her touch was just heavy, allowing Maddy Anderson to collect and seal the victory.


Entering the 2021 campaign with nine career goals in her first four seasons, midfielder Molly Martin is enjoying a prolific final season in Red and Navy. The Memphis native has matched those nine goals in 2021 alone, tied for fourth in the SEC. Potentially the most dangerous aerial presence in the nation, six of Martin’s goals this season have come off headers.


In back-to-back weeks, Ole Miss was recognized in the SEC’s weekly awards after Haleigh Stackpole was named the conference’s offensive player of the week. Stackpole scored the lone goal in Ole Miss’ victory over Vanderbilt, earning her third career weekly award from the league.

The week prior, for the first time ever, Ole Miss players received the SEC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors for the same week following Rebel wins over No. 19 South Carolina and Texas A&M. Stunningly, Channing Foster earned the first SEC weekly honor of her career, being tabbed the offensive player of the week after assisting on Ole Miss’ game-winner against the Gamecocks and scoring a brace in the Rebels’ 2-0 victory at Texas A&M. Foster was also selected to the College Soccer News Team of the Week. Meanwhile, keeper Ashley Orkus earned her second defensive weekly recognition, posting three saves against Carolina and recording her fourth clean sheet with four stops against the Aggies.


When SEC play rolls around, Rebel striker Mo O’Connor steps her game up. Of O’Connor’s 11 career goals, seven have come against conference opposition, including four of five goals in 2021. O’Connor’s four goals in league play is tied for the third most in the conference.


While three points on the road was nice, possibly the most rewarding aspect of Ole Miss’ match at Texas A&M was seeing the return of senior Lonnie Mulligan. Taking the pitch for the final five minutes of the half at Ellis Field, it was the first game action for Mulligan since tearing her ACL 362 days prior in the second match of the 2020 season at LSU.


For the past five years, Channing Foster and Molly Martin have been synonymous with Ole Miss soccer. This season, both entered the Rebel record book. No one has ever played more minutes in an Ole Miss kit than Foster, who has logged 8,568 minutes on the pitch. Meanwhile, Martin has played in 97 matches in her Rebel career, one more than Foster and more than any other player in program history.


When the Rebels have scored this season, it’s been a pretty safe bet that Haleigh Stackpole is involved, recording either a goal or an assist on 16 of Ole Miss’ last 23 goals. While the senior has five goals to her name in 2021, her primary role has been in setting up scoring opportunities. Stackpole ranks third in the nation with 13 assists this season, already the fourth most in a single season in program history. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native is up to 28 assists in her career, ranking third all-time at Ole Miss. Stackpole has not registered an assist in Ole Miss’ last three games, her longest drought of the season.


Taking full advantage of the height on the roster, Ole Miss has benefitted greatly from its aerial attack in 2021 with nine headed goals, six off the dome of senior Molly Martin. Additionally, eight of the Rebels’ goals have come off of either a corner kick or a long throw-in.


Coming off of arguably the best season in program history, Ole Miss is reloaded for the 2021 season, bringing back virtually the entire roster from a season ago. In fact, the Rebels return every single goal, assist and save from last season’s team, including a veteran core of 13 upperclassmen.  Going back even further, 50 of the 58 goals scored over the last two seasons were scored by a player returning to the Rebel roster. Bolstering the stacked lineup with 11 additional newcomers, the Rebs have plenty of weapons available to attack the new campaign.


After establishing herself with a solid first season in Red and Navy in 2019, Rebel goalkeeper Ashley Orkus grabbed the nation’s attention in 2020 with one of the most decorated seasons in program history. The senior shot stopper has been recognized for her accomplishments with a selection to the TopDrawerSoccer Best XI First Team, garnering headlines as the premier goalkeeper in the country. This comes after making a Southeastern Conference high 85 saves with seven clean sheets a season ago, leading to a unanimous nod as the SEC Goalkeeper of the Year and a United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-America laurel, while also earning the Best XI First Team spot from TopDrawerSoccer to close out the season.


Coming back for one final college campaign in 2021, Channing Foster will look to accomplish something rarely possible, become a five-time All-SEC honoree. Ever since bursting onto the scene with 12 goals as a freshman in 2017, Foster has been lighting the scoreboard up for the Rebs, landing on the all-conference team every season, including back-to-back first team nods. The SEC’s active leading scorer with 42 goals, the Murray, Kentucky, native is one of just two Rebels to earn all-league distinction four times in a career, joining all-time great Danielle Johnson. Despite her prolific career, Foster enters this season with the first preseason All-America recognition of her career, being selected to the Third Team by College Soccer News.


For the second consecutive season, Channing Foster and Ashley Orkus have been named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. The trophy is the nation’s highest individual honor recognizing the nation’s National Player of the Year as determined by the voting of Division I coaches who are members of United Soccer Coaches. Foster and Orkus are two of six SEC players recognized on the watch list, joining Arkansas’s Parker Goins and Anna Podojil and Texas A&M’s Barbara Olivieri and Karlina Sample. The Rebel duo are also both among the top-100 players in the nation as ranked by TopDrawerSoccer. Orkus is the highest ranked goalkeeper in the land at No. 16, the third-highest ranked player in the SEC and climbing all the way from No. 63 in TDS’s 2020 preseason rankings. Meanwhile, Foster comes in at No. 57, moving up from her place at No. 69 in the final rankings of the 2020 season.


Prior to October 31, 2020 no goalkeeper in the history of the Southeastern Conference had ever posted two assists in a single match. That changed during Ole Miss’ 4-3 win over Georgia, with Ashley Orkus crossing the midfield stripe twice to serve in free kicks, both times combining with Molly Martin to result directly in Rebel goals. Orkus wasn’t done there, the following week at Vanderbilt, Orkus again delivered a crucial assist from a free kick, teaming up with Martin once again to setup Channing Foster’s golden goal in overtime. During conference play, the three assists were good for a tie, along with Martin, for fourth most in the SEC and 18th in the nation.


For the second time in three years, an Ole Miss Rebel heard her name called during the National Women’s Soccer League College Draft, with senior Channing Foster being selected with the 32nd overall pick by the Chicago Red Stars, while still retaining her eligibility to suit up for the Rebels this season. The Murray, Kentucky, native is a familiar face to the Red Stars organization, having played for the club’s Women’s Premier Soccer League affiliate, helping lead the Chicago Red Stars Reserves to a WPSL Central Region Championship. The Reds Stars have also been on the wrong end of the senior’s lethal left foot, with Foster scoring a stoppage time winner for the U-23 USWNT over Chicago in the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational.


Over her first three seasons as a Rebel, junior Haleigh Stackpole has proven to have deep reserves when it comes to energy. The Fort Bragg, North Carolina, native has been a fixture in the Ole Miss lineup ever since stepping foot on campus, starting all 63 matches of her collegiate career. Even more impressive, the box-to-box midfielder has hardly ever come off the field despite easily pacing the Rebels in distance ran every match, typically 9-10 miles. After ranking second on the team as a freshman at just over 84 minutes per match, Stackpole was subbed for just three total minutes in 2019, logging 1,899 minutes over 20 matches, and was one of just three players to be on the pitch for every second last season.


Earlier in the week, The SEC announced the 2021 Preseason Coaches’ Poll on Tuesday, with Ole Miss predicted to finish sixth in the league table as voted on by the conference’s 14 head coaches.

Ole Miss moves up a couple of places over its prediction in the past two coaches’ polls, having been selected eighth the last two seasons. The Rebels have finished higher in the league standings than the preseason prognostication in six of the last nine seasons.


The Rebel coaching staff scoured the entirety of the south to bring in some of the nation’s top talent for the 2021 roster, plucking seven rookies from six different states. Adding to an Ole Miss roster that features standout performers from all around the country, Mott and his staff dipped into the talent pool in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee to continue to build the roster’s depth. Mott signed defender Kaitlin Maynard, a pair of midfielders in Ellie McIntyre and Lauren Montgomery and a trio of forwards, Amber Fortenberry, Maddie Bishop and Whitaker Buchanan. He also went out and added Canadian goalkeeper Alyssa Zalac to the signing class in late January and defender Lily Logan in April.

Rounding out the 2021 class is Shea O’Malley from Cary, North Carolina. O’Malley was ranked as the No. 25 recruit in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer and was called up to the United States U17 Women’s National Team. O’Malley graduated high school early and arrived on campus early to train with the Rebels during the spring.


In addition to the crop of nine freshmen added for the new season, Ole Miss also added depth to its veteran lineup with a pair of transfers in Sydney Ash of Virginia Tech and Stella Downing of Memphis.

Ash spent two seasons in Blacksburg before joining Ole Miss and training with the Rebels in the spring of 2021. In her time at Virginia Tech, the junior defender played in 13 matches with eight starts across the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The Leesburg, Virginia, native made seven starts for VT during the fall of 2020, helping the Hokies to a pair of clean sheets and recording her first career assist against Miami. Unfortunately, Ash will spend the 2021 season on the sideline after suffering a season-ending injury in preseason training.

The Rebels have also added a player they got to see up close in personal a season ago in Memphis’ Stella Downing. A lightning quick attacker out of Vancouver, Canada, Downing played in all 12 matches for the Tigers last season, tallying a pair of assists. One of those helpers came against Ole Miss, setting up Memphis’ lone goal in the 3-1 Rebel win. At the international level, Downing earned a bronze medal in the 2018 CONCACAF U17 Women’s Championship, earning her first cap for Team Canada against the USA.


Fans can keep up with all the goings on around the Ole Miss soccer program by following the Rebels on the team’s various social media platforms. You can find the Rebs on Twitter at @OleMissSoccer, on Instagram at @OfficialOleMissSoccer or on Facebook by search “Ole Miss Soccer”. Fans can also now follow Ole Miss on TikTok at @OleMissWSoccer.


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