By Adam Brown
No. 20 Ole Miss soccer returns to the pitch on Thursday as they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide. The first kick is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network+.
Ole Miss (9-1-2, 3-1-0 SEC) looks to bounce back after their first loss of the season 1-0 to Tennessee on Friday night.
This season, the Rebels rank second in the nation in goals against average of 0.333 and top-5 in save percentage.
Senior goalie Ashley Orkus’ eight shutouts are second most in the SEC and fourth in the nation behind Idaho’s Kira Witte. Orkus holds second place on Ole Miss’ all-time saves and wins list with 289 saves and keeper wins with 41. She needs nine more saves and two more wins to take the record.
Alabama comes into the match with a 11-1-1 and first in the SEC with a 4-0 record. The team is ranked fourth in the nation and has yet to lose a game at home, including wins over No. 18 Clemson and No. 5 South Carolina. Alabama is 3-0 against top-25 opponents with wins over the two-team mentioned previously and No. 6 BYU on the road.
The Alabama offense is one of the best in the nation as it ranks top-10 in scoring offense, total goals, total assists, and shots per game. The offense is fourth in goals with 37 scored, leading the way with nine goals is Riley Mattingly Parker. Senior Reyna Reyes scored five goals, forwards Gianna Paul and Ashlynn Serepca each have four goals. Midlfielder Felicia Knox is the main shot creator as she has tallied 12 assists to lead the nation along with three goals.
The defense rounds out a great team, allowing just eight goals. Defenders Sasha Pickard, Gessica, Skorka, and Reyes have started every game and each played over 1,000 minutes. Goalkeeper McKinley Crone is also a big reason for the Crimson Tide’s success. Crone has started all 13 games and compiled 33 saves and 0.67 goals against average.
Ole Miss is ahead of Alabama in the all-time series, holding a record of 20-8-1. The Rebels have a three-game win streak on the Crimson Tide, including a 1-0 victory in the SEC Tournament in 2021. The Rebels came away with a 2-0 win in 2020 the last time these two teams played each other in Tuscaloosa.