Soccer Set for Showdown with No. 19 South Carolina Thursday

Soccer Set for Showdown with No. 19 South Carolina Thursday

QUICK KICKS

• Ole Miss is coming off of a 1-0 win at Florida on Sunday

• It was the Rebels’ first-ever win in Gainesville in 12 trips.

• The Rebels have won five of their last six matches overall and five of its last six matches in SEC play.

• With the win, Ole Miss improves to 3-1-0 in SEC play, tied for first in the SEC West with six in-division points in the league table. It is tied for the best start through four conference matches in program history.

Channing Foster scored the lone goal in the win over the Gators, the 40th of her career. Foster is the SEC’s active leading scorer.

• It snapped a six-match scoreless streak for Foster, tied for the longest of her career.

Haleigh Stackpole recorded an assist on Foster’s goal, her 12th of the season. The senior ranks second in the nation in the category.

• Stackpole now has 27 assists in her career, the third most in program history.

• Making five saves, Ashley Orkus recorded her third clean sheet of the season against Florida.

• Orkus ranks fifth in school history in both career clean sheets and saves with 16 and 217, respectively.

• Ole Miss received 47 votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Poll.

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

SCOUTING SOUTH CAROLINA

Shelley Smith is in her 21st season as the head coach at South Carolina, having led the Gamecocks to five SEC championships and thirteen NCAA Tournament berths, all in the last 14 years. Prior to making the move to Columbia, Smith spent four seasons as the head coach at Rhode Island.

South Carolina enters Thursday’s matchup in Oxford with a 9-2-0 overall record and a perfect 4-0-0 mark in SEC play. The Gamecocks finished off their non-conference schedule with a bit of a stumble, falling in back-to-back matches against Clemson and Virginia Tech but have since picked up successive wins over Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Auburn.

The Gamecocks have been led by a balanced scoring attack, with 11 different goal scorers. Corinna Zullo, Jyllissa Harris and Eveleen Hahn are all tied for the team lead with four goals, while Catherine Barry has chipped in three herself. Meanwhile, Ryan Garies easily paces the team with seven assists on the year.

Heather Hinz has made all 11 starts in between the posts, ranking fourth in the SEC with a 0.83 goals against average. Hinz has been forced into just 27 saves in 2021, recording a .750 save percentage.

SERIES HISTORY

South Carolina leads the all-time series with Ole Miss 12-5-3, including 5-3-2 in Oxford. The Gamecocks have had Ole Miss’ number in recent meetings, winning by a 2-0 score line in each of the last three matchups and winning four of the last five meetings overall. Ole Miss is seeking its first win over South Carolina since 2015.

LAST MEETING

COLUMBIA, S.C. –
Ole Miss gave South Carolina a fight all night long but were unable to break down a stout Gamecock defense, falling 2-0 at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium.

The match got off to a fairly quick start for South Carolina, with Elexa Bahr using the outside of her foot to flick home an Anna Patten through ball in the 16th minute. However, after the early goal Ole Miss began to settle in and play evened out between the two teams.

However, the Rebels had a response in the 39th minute. Quickly taking a throw in, Julia Phillips found Sydney Michalak, who whipped a bending cross towards the far post. Saydie Holland got to it first and flicked to Channing Foster, who scored on the vacated goal to tie the match heading into halftime.

The Rebel came within inches of tying the game in the 27th minute of play, with a wayward shot from Mo O’Connor being laid off to Molly Martin by Julia Phillips. Martin’s shot from the top of the box was true but Mikayla Krzeczowski got just enough of it to push it onto the post.

The Rebels continued to look dangerous going forward through the rest of the half but were unable to break down the Gamecock defense, hitting the break down a goal.

Just like the end of the first, the second half began evenly, with both teams cleverly working the ball to get into attacking positions. However, it was the Gamecocks that broke through again, with Claire Griffiths burying a screamer from outside the top of the 18, doubling the Rebel deficit.

The Rebels never gave up the fight but the South Carolina defense was able to sit back with a two-goal lead and absorb any pressure coming forward, closing out the match.

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 8,105 minutes on the pitch. Meanwhile, Martin has played in 80 matches in her Rebel career, one more than Foster and more than any other player in program history.

LATER GATORS

Playing on a warm and sticky afternoon in the Sunshine State, Ole Miss picked up a milestone victory against Florida, winning in Gainesville for the first time in 12 trips. Channing Foster scored her 40th goal in the 13th minute and the defense made the score stand up. Ashley Orkus made five stops in goal, including a clutch diving stop in the waning minutes of the match.

BIG GAME HUNTED

Ole Miss recorded arguably the biggest win in program history against No. 5 LSU, shutting down the staunch Tiger offense in a 2-0 victory in Oxford. It was the first win over a top-5 opponent ever for Ole Miss and the first time the Tigers were held to fewer than two goals in a match this season. The Rebel back line completely locked down the LSU attack, holding a Tiger team that was average over 20 shots per match to just five on the night.

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 13 of Ole Miss’ last 16 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 12 assists this season, already the fourth most in a single season in program history. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native is up to 27 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, seven 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 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.

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.

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 prior to the start of the season, 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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