OXFORD, Miss. -
With anticipation and expectations riding high, Ole Miss begins its 2004 soccer season this weekend at home. The Rebels host Northwestern State Friday at 7 p.m. CT and Middle Tennessee Sunday at 1 p.m. at Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
For the second straight year, Ole Miss home matches can be heard on Rebel Radio 92.1 FM, with the audio also available online at www.OleMissSports.com. Fans can also see a live webcast at www.OleMissSports.tv.
Coming off their best season in school history, the Rebels carry a mountain of momentum into the new campaign. The 2003 effort saw the team make its second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and advance to the second round with an opening win over Texas. With a 15-6-2 mark, Ole Miss finished top four in the SEC overall for the second straight year and spent five weeks in the national rankings.
The Rebels return the bulk of the key weapons from that squad, and regain two of their best. Kelly Renie was the 2002 SEC Freshman of the Year and was among the nation's top goal-scorers, while Lyndsey Williams earned the team's 2002 Defensive MVP award in her rookie season in the Red and Blue. Both those players missed last year with ACL injuries and are back in uniform this fall.
Include two-time All-SEC first team midfielder Kristal Menard, and the Ole Miss outlook is excellent. The Rebels are the preseason pick to win the SEC Western Division and are receiving votes in the NSCAA top-25 preseason poll.
"Outside expectations never surpass our personal goals," said Ole Miss head coach Steve Holeman. "When others place expectations on us, it only serves as added motivation for our players on a daily basis."
Northwestern State is coming off a 9-9-2 performance in 2003 and loses only three players from that squad. However, the Demons' only previous encounter with Ole Miss was a 13-2 Rebel domination in 1996 that saw former Ole Miss forward Sarah Comeaux set an NCAA record for goals with seven.
Middle Tennessee turned in a 12-7-2 record a year ago and boasts nine starters back. The Rebels are 2-0 all-time against the Blue Raiders, including a 3-0 result last year.
"This weekend will be a good challenge for us," Holeman said. "We're excited, we're confident, and we're ready to kick off the season."
To purchase season tickets for the upcoming campaign, contact the Ole Miss ticket office at 662-915-7167 or 888-732-8587, toll-free in the state.
Family passes, which allow entrance for four family members to each game, are available for $100, while individual adult season passes are $40. E-cards will be issued to anyone who purchases a season pass. Individual game tickets are available at a cost of $5 for adults and $2 for students 18 and under. Admission for Ole Miss students is free with a valid student ID.
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