OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Ole Miss soccer team continued to make history this season when the Rebels (15-5-2) earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament and were announced as a host site for the opening round of play with the announcement of the tournament field on Monday.
Ole Miss, ranked in the top 25 at No. 22 nationally, will host Jackson State at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children and students. It marks the first time the Rebels will host an NCAA Tournament game in program history and the fifth-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
“It was pretty stressful to have to wait that far into the bracket announcement to hear our name called,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “We felt like we were in, but you can’t wait to hear your name called so there is no doubt left that you’ll continue your season.
“This is another step forward for our program as we continue to build,” Mott said. “This will be the first time in the tournament for any of these players and the first time for our staff as Rebels. We can’t wait to take the field again and are excited for this group of seniors to have the opportunity to step out on that field one more time and play in front of the great fans we’ve had support us all season.”
The Rebels have had an outstanding season in 2013, tying the school record for wins in a season and have the chance to break that record against Jackson State this Friday. Ole Miss posted 14 wins in the regular season, also a school record, before defeating Kentucky in the SEC Tournament to advance to the semifinals and tie the record for wins in a season.
Ole Miss has been led this season by a pair of All-SEC first team performers in Mandy McCalla and Rafaelle Souza. Souza paced the team with 19 goals this season and tied the career mark for goals with 41 over her three years in the Red and Blue. McCalla tallied 14 goals to date and is fourth all-time on the career goals list in Rebel history.
It isn’t all on the foot of McCalla and Souza, however, as the seven different Rebels have scored goals this season and nine different players have passed out assists. A pair of sophomores sit right behind the seniors in scoring, with Olivia Harrison and Bethany Bunker– an All-SEC Tournament selection along with McCalla – notching five and six goals, respectively.
The defense of the Rebels has been getting the job done as well, with junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick directing a young back line to post nine shutout victories this season. It’s one more than the shutout total a year ago and marks 20 matches that McCormick has played a role in posting a shutout in her career. She has also become the all-time leader in goalkeeper wins with 33 following the SEC Tournament win over Kentucky.
Jackson State enters the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 10-9-2 and earned a bid by claiming the Southwest Athletics Conference tournament this past weekend with a win over Alabama State in the championship game.
Jalana Ellis leads the way with seven goals for the Tigers and is one of 11 players to notch a goal this season for Jackson State. Elexis Rice and Eroncia Berry are right behind her with five goals each this season.
Jackson State and the Rebels have two opponents in common this season, Northwestern State and Mississippi State. The Tigers fell in both matches against the common foes while the Rebels picked up wins over both the Demons and the Lady Bulldogs.