21 Aug Soccer Heads to Bluff City for Derby Clash with Memphis
• Following Thursday night’s cancelation, Ole Miss opens the 2021 season on the road in the annual derby against Memphis.
• Ole Miss is looking for its sixth straight win on Matchday 1.
• The Rebels have been victorious in two of the last three trips to the Bluff City, but fell 3-1 in the last road meeting in 2019.
• The Rebels are 14-1-3 all-time when opening the season at home, including 8-1-2 under head coach Matt Mott.
• After sweeping all six matches last season, Ole Miss is 30-8-1 in non-conference play over the past five years.
• Ole Miss matched its deepest postseason run even in 2020, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second time ever.
• Rebel keeper Ashley Orkus was named to the TopDrawerSoccer Preseason Best XI First Team, recognizing the senior as the nation’s premier shot stopper.
• Senior Channing Foster also received some recognition ahead of the start of the campaign, being named a Third Team Preseason All-American by College Soccer News.
• Tying for the fifth most points in the league table last season, Ole Miss was picked to finish sixth in the 2021 SEC Preseason Coaches Poll.
• Five Rebels were selected to the 2021 SEC Preseason Watchlist, with Channing Foster, Molly Martin, Sydney Michalak, Ashley Orkus and Haleigh Stackpole representing Ole Miss for the second straight season.
• With just four departures from last season’s roster, Ole Miss returns every goal, assist and save from the 2020 campaign to the roster in 2021. Additionally, the Rebel lineup was infused with 11 total newcomers.
WELCOME BACK FANS!
After having its boisterous crowds reduced to a mere fraction of itself last season due to social distancing restrictions, Ole Miss is pleased to announce the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium has returned to 100% capacity for the 2021 campaign. Masks are encouraged for fans attending games, but not required. As in previous seasons, attendance at home soccer matches in Oxford is completely free of charge.
The Tigers kicked off the 22nd season under head coach Brooks Monaghan with a resounding 4-0 victory over Southeast Missouri Thursday night, improving to 255-137-29 under the second head coach in program-history. The Tigers were predicted to finish second in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, receiving three first place votes.
Three Tigers were named to the Preseason All-AAC team in United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-American Tonya Boychuk, AAC Midfielder of the Year Mya Jones and AAC Rookie of the Year Grace Stordy. The Memphis attack will also feature Saorla Miller, who scored a hat trick in Thursday’s win over SEMO.
Memphis also returns veteran starting goalkeeper Elizabeth Moberg, who earned her third All-AAC nod last season after claiming the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2019. In 12 matches last season, Moberg posted a 0.83 goals against average and a .722 save percentage.
The Rebels and Tigers have met up in 23 derby matchups all-time, with Ole Miss leading the series 13-8-2, including 5-4-1 in Memphis. Ole Miss and Memphis have clashed in every season since 2013 and have failed to face off just twice since both programs were created in 1995.
OXFORD, Miss. – Haleigh Stackpole’s brace and a flurry of offense to start the second half helped Ole Miss soccer dominate Memphis, 3-1, in the 23rd iteration of the derby between the two sides Monday night at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
Stackpole scored twice in the span of just over five minutes to lift the Rebels past the Tigers. Sadie Holland added another insurance goal in the 58th minute to push the lead to two.
Mere moments before the expiration of the opening stanza, the Tigers jumped ahead on a last-second goal from Mya Jones, with a just a couple of tenths of a second left on the clock.
The Rebels came out of the half with a chip on their shoulder. It only took them three minutes before Stackpole scored the equalizer, chopping to her left foot and striking the ball into the upper 90. Just over five minutes later the junior pounced again, netting her second goal on a free kick from the top of the box.
Not long after, Holland also contributed to the scoring, cleaning up O’Connor’s shot that careened off the post and tidily finishing into the open goal mouth.
With a two-goal lead and 30 minutes to play, the Rebels were able to hold off the Memphis attack as the Tigers looked to chip away at the lead. Orkus was strong in goal, making five saves in the match.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Ole Miss Soccer Stadium has been a place of comfort when opening the season for the Rebels. When opening the season in Oxford, Ole Miss is 14-1-3 all-time, including 8-1-2 during the
Matt Mott era. 2021 marks the 13th consecutive season that the Rebels have kicked off the season on their home ground.
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 will have plenty of weapons available to attack the new campaign.
REBS IN THE RANKINGS
Ole Miss has placed itself among the nation’s elite, entering the season slotted at No. 23 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll. It is just Ole Miss’ second-time ever appearing in the top-25 of the preseason coaches poll, having been ranked No. 22 by the NSCAA in 2016. The Rebels were also slated No. 24 in the preseason rankings by Soccer Buzz back in 2006. Overall since 2013, Ole Miss has appeared in the United Soccer Coaches Poll at some point in six-of-eight seasons.
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.
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 35 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.
Touted as two of the very best players in all of college soccer, Ashley Orkus and Channing Foster are 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.
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 60 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.
Keep up with all the latest news and information on the Rebels by following Ole Miss Soccer on Twitter at @OleMissSoccer, on Facebook at Facebook.com/OleMissSoccer, and on Instagram at Instagram.com/officialolemisssoccer. Also, follow head coach Matt Mott on Twitter at @CoachMattMott.
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