By Adam Brown
The No. 23 Ole Miss soccer team returns to the pitch on Thursday night to play host to the East Tennessee State University Bucs in the 2021 season opener. The first kick is set for 6 p.m. inside the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium and can be seen on SEC Network+.
Ole Miss is coming off of a NCAA Sweet 16 appearance last season for coach Matt Mott’s club. In the 2020 season, the Rebels finished with a 10-6-2 overall record and a 4-4 mark in conference play.
Mott and his staff return 16 players that contributed every single goal, assist and save from last season. The roster is a vertan club on the field led by eight seniors Lonnie Mulligan, Channing Foster, Sydney Michalak, Sophie Dineen, Haleigh Stackpole, Ashley Orkus, Madisyn Pezzino and Molly Martin.
The Rebels were led in goals by Stackpole with 16 in the 2020 season and Foster was right behind her with 12 of her own. For Foster in her career as a Rebel she has scored 35 goals.
ETSU heads into Oxford after playing two preseason matches at Kentucky and hosting Appalachin State. The Bucs are coming into the season after a 2020 campaign that came to a close with a 1-6-1 overall record and a 1-4-1 mark in the Southern Conference (SoCon).
ETSU returns seniors Maegan Sours and Sarah Connoly who took 16 and 10 shots on goal respectively.
These two clubs have met twice with both coming before the Mott era. The Rebels picked up shutout victories in each battle, defeating the Buccaneers 2-0 in Oxford in 2006 and beating ETSU 4-0 at home in 2009.