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Rebels Soccer Coach Mott Pleased With Rebels’ Growth In Spring Season

Photo courtesy Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics
Photo courtesy Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

The Ole Miss soccer team spent the spring tweaking the training program and hitting the pitch for some lively competition in friendly competition with teams around the Midwest and Southeast, and head coach Matt Mott couldn’t be more pleased with the progress heading into the summer and the 2015 season.

“I’m really, really happy with our spring development,” Mott said. “The spring is about making each individual player better and I think we did that. We added to our individual training regimen for the players and additional film screening for each player. That paid huge dividends.

“We saw huge improvement among our returning players,” Mott said. “It was great to have so many back from a year ago and that paid off with us being able to play a large number of players. We got a lot of work in the team training, but the individual work is where we really grew and were able to focus our attention on areas of growth for each individual player.”

The Rebel coaches tweaked the training plan for the spring from previous seasons and Mott said he was excited about the efforts of the staff as Ole Miss looks to build on a season that saw the Rebels go unbeaten in 13 matches and a squad that returns all but one goal-scorer and players who account for 29-of-30 goals scored last season.

“I have to really point out the effort of the staff with Rob Thompson, Melissa Terry and our volunteer assistant Richard Beebe with their attention to the details and work on breaking down film,” Mott said. “They did a fantastic job this spring in working to get the players ready for the season.”

Mott and the Rebels also took to the field with a strenuous schedule against regional rivals and conference foes to give the squad a look at the competition level for the coming season. The staff also planned the spring with scenarios to challenge the squad with demanding situations that required steady focus and preparation for competition.

“We played a strong schedule for our exhibition games, including a couple of teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last year,” Mott said. “We played good games and went into each game with different scenarios and goals we wanted to accomplish and focus on in the competition. We put the kids through some stressful situations and pushed them out of their comfort zones.”

One of the areas that pleased Mott in the spring was the speed of the squad and the ability of the offense to create numerous scoring opportunities throughout the course of the exhibition season. He also said the training moving forward will also focus on converting more of those opportunities into successful goals as Ole Miss will again play a challenging schedule in the fall.

“One of our goals for the summer and fall preseason will be to focus on finishing opportunities,” Mott said. “We did well creating a ton of scoring opportunities, but we have to make sure we’re better at finishing those opportunities than we were. That said, I’m happy with the spring overall.”

Mott and the Rebels also did some tweaking with player positions and formations in the spring, seeking to best utilize the skills and talents of the current roster and find the mix when the incoming players join the squad over the summer. Several players caught the eye of the staff with the work and effort made to adjust to new demands for the coming season.

Bethany Bunker had a good spring with an adjustment to her position and she did well overall,” Mott said. “Liza Harbin had a great spring after we switched her position up some. Olivia Harrison, Sara Coleman and Georgia Russell also changed positions a bit.

Gretchen Harknett may have had the biggest change moving her to a forward position, but she looked great all spring,” Mott said. “Addie Forbus really came on strong. We’re also happy with our midfield play after moving Courtney Carroll to the midfield with Jennifer Miller and Jessica Hiskey in there.”

The most exciting position to watch for the Rebels and fans of the program throughout the summer and into the fall will undoubtedly be Ole Miss’ last line of defense. With the graduation of four-year starter Kelly McCormick, the Rebels are looking for a new keeper. McCormick rewrote the Rebel record book over the course of her four-year career.

“We had a great battle in goal with Madi Killeen and Marnie Merritt really battling at keeper,” Mott said. “The two of them split the minutes evenly and played really well. Both of them showed really well in goal and we’re excited to see who wins that battle going into the fall.”

The Rebels will open the 2015 season with an exhibition match on August 14 against Central Arkansas.

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