OXFORD, Miss. – Fresh off a weekend that saw the Rebels go undefeated against a pair of nationally ranked teams, play against some of the nation’s top competition continues as No. 23 Ole Miss (12-3-2, 5-2-1 SEC) faces No. 19 Texas A&M and Alabama this weekend.
The Rebels will travel to face the nationally-ranked and Southeastern Conference leading Aggies at 8 p.m. Friday before returning home to host Alabama at 1 p.m. Sunday in a match televised by SportSouth.
“We are tied for fourth in the league right now as we have three games left,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “We’re on the road again Friday night. We play at College Station against Texas A&M. We’re back here on Sunday against Alabama. Texas A&M is currently in first at 7-1, so we have two first place teams back-to-back weekends. We certainly like the way our team is right now.
“We have to take care of business with these last three, starting with A&M on Friday,” Mott said. “Texas A&M is a very good team. There are athletes all over the field. They’ve kind of run through the conference at this point. They’re 7-1. We have to get ready for them down at their place. It is probably the most difficult place to play in the conference and the country. They’ll have several thousand fans down there screaming and yelling. It will be something we’ve never experienced before. Our team hasn’t been down there. We need to be ready certainly on Friday night.”
Ole Miss is coming off a weekend that saw the Rebels defeat No. 25 LSU on the road in a Friday night contest before coming home to play No. 7 South Carolina to a 1-1 draw through two overtimes. It was a highly competitive weekend as the Rebels faced the top two teams in the league standings at the time and moved into a tie for fourth overall with the undefeated weekend.
Seniors Rafaelle Souza and Mandy McCalla have led the way for the Rebels for much of the season. The duo have tallied 14 and 11 goals, respectively, with Souza hitting four game-winners for the Rebels and McCalla tallying five game-winning goals. In all, eight Rebels have scored goals this season, while nine different players have passed out assists to make Ole Miss one of the most prolific offenses in the league.
Defensively, the Rebels have consistently performed at a high level as well. Ole Miss has posted eight shutout victories this season and held opponents to one goal or fewer in 13-of-17 contests. Anchored by junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, the backline has stepped up in recent weeks to allow two goals in the last four matches as the Rebels posted shutouts of Vanderbilt and No. 25 LSU and allowed one goal in a win at No. 20 Georgia and one goal in the draw against No. 7 South Carolina.
That defense will be tested Friday night against an Aggie team that has won seven consecutive contests and leads the SEC with a 7-1 mark in league play.
Texas A&M has scored 43 goals this season and held opponents to only 14 goals on the year. Shea Groom leads the way for the Aggies with 10 goals on the year and is joined on the attack by Liz Keester (7), Alley Bailey (6) and Kelly Monogue (6) as four players have scored at least six goals this year. Twelve different Aggies have found the back of the net this season with Karlie Mueller leading the way in ball distribution with 10 assists to date.
Jordan Day anchors the defense from the goal, posting a 12-3-1 record and playing a role in five shutouts for the Aggies.
Ole Miss will then return home to host the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sunday. Alabama travels to play Mississippi State on Friday night before heading to Oxford for the televised contest on Sunday afternoon.
— Bill Bunting, Ole Miss Sports Information