By Adam Brown
Ole Miss soccer returns to the pitch on Thursday night as they play host to the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecock’s. The first kick is set for 6 p.m. on SEC Network +.
Ole Miss (8-2-2, 3-1 SEC) is coming off a 1-0 win on the road over Florida on Sunday. Senior Channing Foster scored the winning goal off the assists of Haleigh Stackpole and Mo O’Connor.
“This SEC season we’ve had really good performances from all of our guys,” head coach Matt Mott said. “We’re 3-1-0 in SEC play with a couple of huge games this week.”
Oxford native, O’Connor has been a big addition to the Rebels program throughout her career.
“She’s one of the leaders in the SEC in goals,” Mott said. “She just works so hard. Her ability to make it difficult for the other team when they have the ball because she’ll pressure so much is really good. She’s getting better technically, her finishing is getting better. She’s scored some really good goals for us, some really important goals. We just love her. She’s a hard working player that is just getting better and better.”
Coach Mott’s club is being ranked No. 5 in the NCAA RPI.
“We’ve had a great non-conference. When you look at the RPI we’re in the top two or three in strength of schedule overall as a team,” Mott said. “So that’s a huge plus for us. The non-conference schedule is really important. The SEC schedule is always going to be tough and it’s always going to elevate the RPI.”
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.
“They’re 4-0 in the league, so they’ll be a tough challenge for us,” Mott said. “They’re very tough defensively.”
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.
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.