Opportunity Awaits as Soccer Hosts No. 5 LSU

Opportunity Awaits as Soccer Hosts No. 5 LSU

QUICK KICKS

• Ole Miss resumes SEC play, taking on its highest ranked opponent of the season in No. 5 LSU.

• In its last SEC match, Ole Miss defeated Alabama 3-0 in Oxford to move to the top of the league table.

• It was the third straight win in league play for the Rebels.

• The Rebels will be looking to start SEC play 2-0 for the first time since 2000.

• Winners of three in a row, the Rebels are coming off of a 2-1 victory over Georgia Southern at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium on Sunday.

Haleigh Stackpole scored the opening goal for the Rebels and set up the game winner for her 10th assist of the season.

• Stackpole’s 10 assists is the second most in the nation. The senior has posted at least one assist in seven of the Rebels’ nine matches.

Ramsey Davis bagged the winner for Ole Miss, her first goal of the season after scoring four in her freshman campaign.

• Stackpole now has 25 assists in her career, the third most in program history.

Channing Foster is the SEC’s active leading scorer with 39 goals in her career.

• Ole Miss received 57 votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Poll.

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

SCOUTING LSU

LSU in its second season under head coach Sian Hudson, who brought a strong head coaching resume to Baton Rouge at the NCAA Division II level at Colorado-Colorado Springs. During her three seasons at UCCS, Hudson led the Mountain Lions to a 52-10-4 record, earning the first three NCAA tournament bids in program history. In 2017, Hudson’s Mountain Lions made a run the NCAA semifinals.

After posting a 8-8-2 record last season, the Tigers have hit the ground running, starting the season undefeated at 8-0-0, reaching the highest ranking in program history at No. 5 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. LSU started out SEC play last week with a win, defeating Mississippi State 2-0 in Baton Rouge.

Outscoring its opponents 28-4 in 2021, the Tigers are led in scoring by Tinaya Alexander with seven goals on the season, including four against Sam Houston. Seniors Alesia Garcia and Molly Thompson have also been firing at will, posting five and four goals, respectively.

While three keepers have seen time between the posts for LSU, Junior Mollee Swift has been the workhorse. The UCCS transfer has started all eight matches, recording a 0.44 goals against average and a .903 save percentage with three clean sheets.

SERIES HISTORY

After splitting a pair of matchups last season, Ole Miss and LSU are tied in the all-time series at 12-12-4. The series has been as tight as it comes in recent times too, with the last six matchups also being split down the middle 3-3. Ole Miss holds a slight 6-4-2 advantage in games played in Oxford, including a 4-0 battering at home in 2019.

LAST MEETING

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. –
With just 12 seconds remaining on the clock at the Orange Beach Sportsplex, Ole Miss suffered a heartbreaking overtime defeat to LSU at the SEC Soccer Tournament, falling 2-1 to the Tigers.

The decisive moment came from the right wing, as LSU’s Meghan Johnson fed a cross through the six yards box that was tapped in by Tinaya Alexander for the golden goal, securing a brace for the Tiger striker.

Despite a hot start for the Rebels, taking three of the first four shots of the match, Ole Miss found itself down in the 32nd minute behind Alexander’s first goal. The redshirt junior picked off a misplayed ball near the midfield stripe and drove forward on a breakaway, cutting back to her left foot before lifting a shot past Ashley Orkus in goal.

The Rebels battled back to knot the match up just before the break, with Madisyn Pezzino breaking through in the 44th minute. Receiving a Haleigh Stackpole pass with her back to goal, Pezzino put her defender on skates before burying a shot in the side netting, deadlocking the score at 1-1 heading into halftime.

Ole Miss started off strong in the overtime period, digging out a pair of scoring chances within the first two minutes that forced LSU keeper Mollee Swift to make a couple of quality saves. However, just before the end of the first extra time session, heartbreak struck as Alexander’s golden goal brought an end to the Rebels’ fall season.

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 11 of Ole Miss’ last 12 goals. While the senior has scored in back-to-back matches and 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 10 assists this season, already tied for the fifth most in a single season in program history. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native is up to 25 assists in her career, ranking third all-time at Ole Miss.

SENIOR LEADERSHIP

Through the first nine matches of the season, seniors Channing Foster and Molly Martin have been in the thick of the scoring action. The pair has teamed up to score 10 of the Rebels’ 18 goals this season. The senior duo have had a bulk of the chances for the Rebels, with Foster leading the team with 41 shots and Martin sitting tied for second at 16.

BRING YOUR GREEN HAT

Dating back to last season, Ole Miss has won each of its last three games in SEC play. With a win on Thursday, the Rebels will have a four-match winning streak in conference action since the 2015 season, when Ole Miss rattled off five straight SEC wins.

AIR RAID OFFENSE

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

CLIMBING THE CHARTS]

Scoring four times on the season, Channing Foster has been up to her old tricks. The four tallies has brought the senior’s career total to 39, moving into soul possession of fourth most in program-history, nine behind all-time leader CeCe Kizer.

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 39 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.

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.

KEEP AN EYE OUT

The Southeastern Conference also announced the 2021 Preseason Watch List on Tuesday, with Ole Miss being represented by Channing Foster, Molly Martin, Sydney Michalak, Ashley Orkus and Haleigh Stackpole, all of whom were also named to the 2020 edition of the watchlist.

Foster returns as the SEC’s active leading scorer, while Martin provides an arial threat as well as serving as a key cog in the spine of the Rebel formation. One of the quickest players in the conference, Michalak helped Ole Miss lock down seven clean sheets at outside back, playing in front of the SEC’s Goalkeeper of the Year in Orkus. Entering her fourth season, Stackpole is a true box-to-box player and arguably the Rebels’ top playmaker, ranking third in the conference with eight assists and adding in four goals of her own.

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.

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.

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.

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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