Sunday, January 23, 2022

Ole Miss Soccer Hosts Saint Louis in NCAA First Round Matchup

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

No. 17 Ole Miss returns to the pitch on Friday as they play host to the Saint Louis Billikens in the first round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium and can be seen on SEC Network+.

Ole Miss (12-5-3, 6-3-1 SEC) received its 10th bid into the NCAA Championship in program history. Last season, in the NCAA Tournament the Rebels advanced to its second NCAA Sweet 16 in program history, advancing on penalties over Bowling Green and No. 6 national seed USC.

The Rebels fell to the Tennessee Vols in the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament last Friday.

Coach Matt Mott’s club had four players named All-SEC, the most in program history. Ashley Orkus and Channing Foster landed on the First Team, while Molly Martin and Haleigh Stackpole earned Second Team honors.

Saint Louis enter the NCAA Tournament with a 12-8-1 overall record, finishing third in the A-10 with a 7-3 mark in conference play. Saint Louis pulled a mild 4-2 upset over No. 2 seed Dayton in the A-10 Tournament semifinals before upending UMass 4-1 to earn a fourth consecutive automatic berth into the Big Dance.

Freshman Emily Gaebe leads the Billikens with seven goals on the season, adding in three assists for 17 total points. Three players are tied for second on the team in scoring with five goals apiece in junior Abbie Miller, sophomore Caroline Kelly and sophomore Lyndsey Heckel.

In goal, sophomore Emily Puricelli has started all 21 matches for SLU, posting 0.77 goals-against average and a .771 save percentage on 54 stops. Puricelli has posted 10 total clean sheets this season, eight solos.

Friday’s match will be the third-ever NCAA Championship match hosted in Oxford and the first since 2015.

Ole Miss has matched up with Saint Louis four times previously, though not since 2013. The Rebels and Billikens have split the previous meetings, with SLU splitting a home-and-home in 2004 and 2005 and Ole Miss repaying the favor with a 3-1 win in Oxford in 2012 and a 2-0 victory in St. Louis in 2013.