Ole Miss Soccer: (Not So) Middle Of The Pack

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Jennifer Miller and the Rebels open the 2014 season against Georgia on Friday night.

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Jennifer Miller and the Rebels open the 2014 season against Georgia on Friday night.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Aug. 20, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. - When the Rebels take to the field this weekend against the Georgia Bulldogs to open the 2014 season, it will be with a group of experienced players in the midfield as Ole Miss looks to pick up a Southeastern Conference victory and kick off the year with success.

The midfield won't look the same as it has in the past, however, as the Rebels look to replace a pair of four-year starters with the graduation of All-America selection Mandy McCalla and two-time captain Erin Emerson.

Junior Jennifer Miller returns to anchor the midfield after starting the previous two seasons, but it will be alongside two teammates who are new to the position with the Rebels, even if they aren't new faces on the field.

Junior Jessica Hiskey and sophomore Gretchen Harknett move up on the field for 2014 after playing previous seasons with the Rebels as strong members of a backline that posted 10 shutouts a year ago and helped Ole Miss to a school record 16 wins and the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"We're very excited about our midfield," Mott said. "Jenn is back for us and she looks really sharp. She's the general for us and understands where the ball needs to go. We're a better team when she touches the ball because she makes great decisions and is so dangerous."

Miller has been a threat in the midfield for the Rebels since she stepped on campus prior to the 2012 season. The diminutive player stands out in the crowd as she zips through defenders to pass the ball off for a score or finishes on her own. As a freshman, she posted a pair of goals before upping that total to four goals and three assists last season as a sophomore.

Add to the mix a pair of defenders who have been known to quickly take the ball and move forward on the attack in Harknett and Hiskey, and the Rebels feel they have an excellent trio in place to help control the middle of the field in 2014.

"Gretchen will move back to her natural position and replace Mandy (McCalla) as an attacking middle," Mott said. "She's a very athletic and dynamic midfielder. She can defend well and shoot with both feet from distance. She brings us the best long-range shooting we've had since I got here. She also has played club soccer with forward Addie Forbus, so they play well off each other and that will help us.

"Jessica will move to a holding mid position to take the place of Erin (Emerson)," Mott said. "She's extremely mobile, tough and tenacious. She's good with the ball and will win a lot of air balls. We really look for her to anchor our midfield. She's a player that possesses all the qualities you would include if you were to design your holding midfielder."

The three aren't going at it alone this season. The Rebels added a trio of freshmen to the mix who all have pushed for playing time in the preseason and are expected to see significant minutes on the field this season.

Amanda Karlsson, a freshman with international experience playing for the Swedish U20 team, joins Liza Harbin and Bella Fiorenzo as additional options to provide depth in the middle this season.

"Amanda is very good with the ball and is another strong presence in the air. She's good with the ball and is a playmaker. Liza will get a lot of minutes to help us in the rotation and is a fantastic athlete. She has possibly the highest vertical leap I've seen in a women's soccer player. Bella will also factor into the depth as she continues to work her way back from injury."

The athleticism at the midfield is one that excites the coaching staff with several players who possess range and agility that will help in transition as the Rebels look to move the ball forward quickly or recover defensively to turn away an opponent's attack.

"We have to replace a couple of very smart players in Erin and Mandy, but also a great goal scorer in Mandy," Mott said of his midfield. "I think this group as a whole has better mobility and speed, so we can cover a lot more ground. I think that's a common theme across the team from top to bottom is our speed. We're a faster team all around this season."

Rebel fans get the chance to see the squad in action this weekend with a pair of matches against challenging foes.

Ole Miss opens the season at 6 p.m. against the Georgia Bulldogs in a match that will be televised by the SEC Network and is the first live regular-season event broadcast by the newly launched network. The Rebels will then return to the pitch to take on Iowa State from the Big 12 at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to all matches at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium is free.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge to Air on ESPNU Aug. 1

      Thursday, July 30, 2015 -

      Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ATLANTA - On Saturday, fans can tune in to see the Rebels duo of Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze and former Ole Miss basketball player Sean Tuohy compete in the Chick-fil-A... read more

    • Rebels Emerge on Four Watch Lists This Week

      Friday, July 17, 2015 -

      Only 50 days until The Grove is full, the constant shouts of "Hotty Toddy" are in the air, and football kicks off 100 years in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium! Looking forward to this upcoming college football season, seven Rebels were named to... read more

    • Football Rebels All Over First Week of Watch List Releases

      Friday, July 10, 2015 -

      As we near the 2015 college football season, national organizations have started to release watch lists for their respective awards. Through the first week of watch lists being released, multiple Rebels have been announced as players that fans need to... read more

    • Engram, Hilton and Johnson to Represent Ole Miss at SEC Football Media Days

      Wednesday, July 8, 2015 -

      Along with head coach Hugh Freeze, three Rebels will represent Ole Miss at the annual SEC Football Media Days next week. Junior Evan Engram, just named to the John Mackey Award Watch List for college football's most outstanding tight end,... read more

    • Five Rebels Tabbed Preseason All-SEC in The Birmingham News

      Tuesday, June 30, 2015 -

      Five Ole Miss Rebels were chosen as preseason All-SEC selections by some of the people who work closest with the student-athletes, the football media relations directors. The 14 football media relations directors of the Southeastern Conference institutions voted in the... read more

    • Lindy's Sports Gives Seven Rebels Preseason Recognition

      Wednesday, June 24, 2015 -

      The preseason accolades just don't stop for the Ole Miss football team. Everywhere you look, Rebels can be found on preseason All-America teams. Lindy's Sports recognized seven Rebels for preseason honors, including four All-Americans. Four Ole Miss Football Rebels were... read more

    • Five Rebels Named Preseason All-America by Athlon Sports

      Tuesday, June 23, 2015 -

      With the season just 74 days away, members of the 2015 Ole Miss football team continue to earn recognition on Preseason All-America lists. Athlon Sports, the latest media outlet to release its 2015 college football preseason All-America team, gave five... read more

    • Sporting News Tabs Four Rebels to Preseason All-America Teams

      Monday, June 15, 2015 - Football

      Preseason All-America football teams continue to roll in, and Ole Miss has been well represented each time.Today, the Sporting News unveiled its preseason All-America first and second teams, which includes a total of four Rebels.OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert... read more

    • Athlon Sports Names Nine Rebels Preseason All-SEC

      Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - Football

      Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season. Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine... read more

    • Eleven Rebels Garner Phil Steele Preseason Honors

      Monday, June 1, 2015 - Football

      The start of summer heat and vacations is also the start of another tradition - preseason college football magazines.One of the first to produce a magazine every year is Phil Steele, whose 2015 version includes about as many Ole Miss... read more

    • Football Signees Report for Summer Classes

      Friday, May 29, 2015 - Football

      Although they will not begin competing for the Rebels until the fall, several members of the 2015 signing class have arrived at Ole Miss to begin their college journey this summer. The first of two summer sessions offered at the... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 28-May 4, 2015)

      Monday, May 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 28-May 4, 2015Baseball - The Rebels started the week defeating the Bulldogs, 11-1 in the annual Governor's Cup. The 10-run win for the Rebels marked the largest margin of victory in the 36-year history... read more

    • VIDEO: Rebel Road Trip 2015

      Monday, May 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Rebel Road Trip 2015 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • More on Steelers' Selection of Golson

      Friday, May 1, 2015 - Football

      Welcome to Pittsburgh...and welcome to #SteelersNation, @Quez_G! #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/oY8wZc10Kk-- Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2015 Congrats Senquez Golson! Drafted 56th overall in the 2015 #NFLDRAFT by the Pittsburgh Steelers. #HottyToddy #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EPGayDNOu7-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 2, 2015 Ole... read more

    • Six Rebels Among Inaugural Scott County HOF Class

      Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - Athletics

      Six men with ties to Ole Miss were part of the inaugural class of 25 athletes and coaches inducted into the Scott County Hall of Fame this past Saturday at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. It is believed that this... read more