No. 18 Soccer Set for National TV Showdown with Vanderbilt

No. 18 Soccer Set for National TV Showdown with Vanderbilt

QUICK KICKS

• Ole Miss is coming off of a 2-0 week with wins over No. 19 South Carolina and at Texas A&M.

• The victories were the Rebels’ first wins against South Carolina and at Texas A&M since 2015.

• The Rebels have won seven of their last eight matches overall and seven of their last eight matches in SEC play.

• With the wins, Ole Miss improves to 5-1-0 in SEC play, tied for second in the SEC table. It is tied for the best start through six conference matches in program history.

Mo O’Connor scored just 1:42 into the match against South Carolina, the fastest goal for Ole Miss since 2018. Of O’Connor’s 11 career goals, seven have been against SEC foes.

Haleigh Stackpole assisted on the effort, her 13th of the season, ranking second in the nation.

Ramsey Davis scored her second game winning goal of the season against the Gamecocks. Keeper Ashley Orkus garnered an assist on the goal, the fourth of her career.

Channing Foster scored a brace to lead Ole Miss over Texas A&M. It was Foster’s second multi-goal game of the season and the sixth of her career.

• Ole Miss earned the No. 18 spot in the United Soccer Coaches Poll, the first time entering the poll since being ranked No. 23 in the preseason.

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

SCOUTING VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt is in its seventh season under head coach Darren Ambrose, who has led the Commodores to hardware in each of the last three seasons, including the 2018 SEC regular season and 2020 SEC Tournament Championships. Prior to Vanderbilt, Ambrose spent 15 seasons as the head coach at Penn, leading the Quakers to three Ivy League crowns.

Vanderbilt enters Sunday’s affair with a .500 record, having its three-match winning streak snapped with a 1-0 overtime loss to Arkansas in Nashville. The Commodores are 3-2-0 in SEC play with wins over Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky.

The ‘Dores are led in scoring by senior Raegan Kelley, who is tied for third in the SEC with eight goals on the season, leading a pack of 11 different scorers. Meanwhile, graduate student Maddie Elwell paces Vandy with six assists in 2021.

Sophomore Kate Devine has started all 14 matches for the Commodores in goal, registering a 1.08 goals against average with 15 goals surrendered and a .762 save percentage on 48 stops.

SERIES HISTORY

Winners of the last two meetings, Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt by a slim 8-7-5 margin. In recent times the series has been all Rebels, with Ole Miss winning seven of the last nine matchups.

LAST MEETING

NASHVILLE – 
For the second time in as many matches, the Ole Miss soccer team scored a pair of late goals to capture a ranked win, overcoming a late deficit to earn a 2-1 road victory over No. 13 Vanderbilt.

Down 1-0 in the 86th minute, Ole Miss scored twice in the match’s final seven and a half minutes to turn the contest on its head. The opening score for the Rebels was the first of freshman Ramsey Davis’ career, while Channing Foster tallied the 33rd of her career to end the match in overtime.

Before the late offensive heroics, a few pivotal saves from Rebel keeper Ashley Orkus kept her side in the match. The junior finished the match with nine total saves, including six in the second half.

Ole Miss found itself behind early, with Vanderbilt taking a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute. The opening tally came off of a bouncing ball in the box off of a corner delivery, with Myra Konte’s shot taking a deflection that gave Orkus no chance.

With time running short for the Rebels, the freshman connection of Lucy Green and Davis came up big to deadlock the score at a goal apiece. After Green’s cross from the right wing evaded the grasp of Vandy keeper Sarah Fuller, Davis was first to the loose ball in the box, poking it through to open her collegiate scoring account.

The Rebs didn’t wait long into overtime to wrap things up, scoring less than three minutes after the resumption of play. For the third time in a week, it was Orkus and Molly Martin connecting to set things up off a free kick, with Orkus sending the ball in and Martin flicking it on with her head. From just outside the six, Foster stuck out her leg and redirected with precision, sneaking the ball inside the left corner for the third golden goal of her prolific career.

TAKING A MULLIGAN

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.

GOAT STUFF

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.

ABOUT DARN TIME

Having won seven of its last eight matches, Ole Miss finally received some recognition for its accomplishments, coming in at No. 18 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The eight spot jump for Ole Miss is the biggest for any team this week. Having received votes most of the season, it is the first appearance in the top-25 of the poll for Ole Miss since being slotted at No. 23 in the preseason iteration. Ole Miss also came in at No. 26 in the College Soccer News top-30.

IT JUST MEANS MO’

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 with Vanderbilt’s Raegan Kelley for the most in the SEC.

FIXTURES IN THE LINEUP

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 8,285 minutes on the pitch. Meanwhile, Martin has played in 94 matches in her Rebel career, one more than Foster and more than any other player in program history.

HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE

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 14 of Ole Miss’ last 20 goals. While the senior has three goals to her name in 2021, her primary role has been in setting up scoring opportunities. Stackpole ranks second 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.

AIR RAID OFFENSE

Taking full advantage of the height on the roster, Ole Miss has benefitted greatly from its aerial attack in 2021 with eight headed goals, five 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.

RUN IT BACK

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.

AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE

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.

SWAN SONG

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.

DYNAMIC DUO

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.

HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE

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.

DRAFT DAY DELIGHT

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.

GAS IN THE TANK

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.

OLE MISS PICKED 6TH IN SEC PRESEASON POLL

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.

ROOKIE REPORT

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.

HITTING THE PORTAL

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.

FOLLOW THE REBS!

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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