02 Oct Soccer Stays on Road Sunday at Florida
• Ole Miss is coming off of a 1-1-0 week, defeating No. 5 LSU in Oxford 2-0 on Thursday before falling on the road at No. 16 Arkansas.
• The victory over LSU was the first over a top-5 opponent in program history.
• It was the fourth straight win in league play for the Rebels, the most since Ole Miss rattled off five straight SEC wins in 2015.
• Ole Miss recorded its second clean sheet of the season against the Tigers. Entering the match, LSU had not been held to fewer than two goals in any match this season.
• Molly Martin scored the game winner against LSU, giving the senior a team-high seven for the season.
• Haleigh Stackpole set up Martin’s goal, her 11th of the season to rank second in the nation.
• Stackpole now has 26 assists in her career, the third most in program history.
• Mo O’Connor scored against both LSU and Arkansas, giving the Oxford native four goals for the season and 10 for her Rebel career.
• Channing Foster is the SEC’s active leading scorer with 39 goals in her career.
• Ole Miss received 30 votes in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Poll.
• The Rebels are ranked fifth in the most recent NCAA RPI report.
Tony Amato is in his first season as head coach at Florida, replacing legendary gaffer Becky Burleigh after 31 seasons at the helm of the Gator program. Amato arrived in Gainesville with 18 years of head coaching experience, most recently at Arizona. In eight seasons in Tucson, Amato became the WIldcats’ all-time wins leader with a record of 88-53-17.
After a tough start to the season, the Gators have started to find their footing, going undefeated in the last four matches. Overall, Florida enters Sunday’s match with a 3-5-3 record, including 2-0-1 in SEC play with back-to-back wins over Mississippi State and Kentucky.
Florida is led in scoring by graduate student forward Kit Loferski, the only Gator with multiple goals on the season. Loferski has found the back of the net four times, putting nine of her 15 shots on goal. Four other Gators have scored one goal this season, while seven different players are tied for the team lead with seven assists.
In goal, sophomore Alexa Goldberg has seen nearly all of the action, starting all 11 matches and posting a 1.49 goals against average with a .767 save percentage, picking up four clean sheets along the way.
The all-time series with Florida has been one of the more lopsided in Ole Miss’ history, with the Gators owning a 21-3-1 advantage in 25 meetings. However, it was the Rebels who came out on top in the last meeting, snapping a nine-match losing streak to Florida with a 3-2 win in Oxford in 2019. The Rebels will be seeking their first-ever win in Gainesville.
OXFORD, Miss. – It had been 10 years since Ole Miss had defeated Florida, with the Gators claiming each of the previous nine meetings. The Rebels flipped the script under the lights at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium, winning a back-and-forth affair by a final score of 3-2.
After 15 minutes of play, the Gators capitalized on an advantage in numbers with Grace Johnson down with a knock, feeding a ball into the box with Madison Alexander slotting it home.
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 second half got off to a hellacious start, with Lonnie Mulligan picking off the Gators in the attacking third and beating Susi Espinoza to the far post less than a minute after the restart. The lead did not last long, though, as Cassidy Lindley followed up her own blocked shot to equalize in the 48th minute.
Once again, the Rebs had an answer. After Florida committed a foul in the middle of the pitch about 35 yards from goal in the 76th minute, Haleigh Stackpole whipped in a curling service and Molly Martin rose above all others, sending the ball over the outstretched hands of Espinoza to push the Rebs in front.
From there, it was game on. Florida threw all their numbers forward for the final fifteen and threatened the Rebel goal on a number of chances. However, each time Ashley Orkus was up to the task, turning aside whatever the Gators threw at her to keep the lead intact and give Ole Miss its first ranked win of the season.
BIG GAME HUNTED
Ole Miss recorded arguably the biggest win in program history last Thursday night 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. Molly Martin scored her fifth header of the season for the game winner, her team-best seventh goal of the season, and Mo O’Connor added her third goal to seal the victory.
Junior forward Mo O’Connor has been on a roll in recent times, scoring in three of Ole Miss’ last four matchups, including back-to-back matches. The former Oxford Charger has scored four times to tie for second most on the team this season, reaching double-digit goals for her career with an away goal at Arkansas.
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 12 of Ole Miss’ last 15 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 11 assists this season, already tied for the fourth most in a single season in program history. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, native is up to 26 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.
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.
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.
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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