Game 9 - at No. 7 Florida Date: Sept. 14, 2017 First Kick: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT Location: Gainesville, Fla. Venue: James G. Pressly Stadium TV:SEC Network Jenn Hildreth (play-by-play) Heather Mitts (analyst) Live Stats:OleMissSports.com Series: Florida leads 20-2-1 Last Match: Oct. 9, 2016 No. 16 Florida 3, Ole Miss 0 Twitter Updates:@OleMissSoccer
KICKERS The Rebels are coming off another perfect weekend, where they topped Tulsa Friday (4-0) and Memphis Sunday night (1-0) in the Memphis Tournament in their first road games of the season. Ole Miss remains unbeaten through eight games, becoming only the third team in school history to go unbeaten through the first eight (2002, 2012). It marks the fifth time in program history Ole Miss will enter SEC play undefeated (1998, 1999, 2002, 2012). Ole Miss recorded its fifth consecutive shutout in Sunday's match at Memphis, and seventh overall. With the stout defense, the Rebels broke the school record for the longest time holding opponents scoreless at 564 minutes, snapping the 2012 record of 483 minutes. Ole Miss' last (and only) goal allowed came in the sixth minute of the draw with Michigan two weeks ago. With 17 goals scored in three matches (High Point, Southern Miss, Tulsa), the Rebels become only the second team in school history to post at least four goals in three-straight matches (1997). With nearly half the regular season in the books, the Rebels turn their focus to SEC play, which begins Thursday night at Florida on SEC Network. The Rebels re-entered the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Top 25 national rankings this week, checking in at No. 24. It marks the first time since Aug. 23, 2016 Ole Miss is ranked. Freshman Channing Foster scored the game-winner in the 43rd minute of Sunday's game at Memphis, and leads the country with nine goals. She has scored in three-straight games, and five of eight outings thus far. Junior CeCe Kizer scored her eighth goal in the win over Tulsa, putting her second behind Foster. She needs just three goals to move into a tie for sixth all-time in career goals (30).
SCOUTING FLORIDA Led by 23-year head coach Becky Burleigh, the Gators are off to a 5-1 start heading into SEC play. Ranked No. 7 in the national polls this week, Florida has outscored its six opponents 12-4, including a big 3-2 win over No. 1 Stanford at home. The Gators also defeated Florida Atlantic (1-0), Troy (5-0), Syracuse (2-1) and Portland (1-0), with the only loss coming at Washington. All-SEC player Gabby Seiler leads the way with five early goals, while Parker Roberts has two, and five other Gators have one each. Florida is averaging 2.0 goals per game and have posted 88 shots, averaging 14.67 per outing. Susi Espinoza has played all six contests in goal for the Gators, pitching three shutouts with 14 saves and only four goals allowed.
SERIES HISTORY - FLORIDA Florida has the upper hand in the series dating back to the 1996 campaign, leading 20-2-1. Ole Miss' two wins versus the Gators came in 2009 and 2005. The 2005 meeting resulted in a 1-0 victory over then No. 11 Florida in Oxford, while the 2009 team won a 3-2, double overtime match against then No. 7 Florida, also at home. Despite trailing in the series, nine of the matchups have been decided by one goal including seven of the last 13.
SPREADING THE WEALTH Through eight contests, Ole Miss soccer leads the NCAA in nearly every offensive category, including 38 goals, and total points (104), while ranking second nationally in points per game (13.0), scoring offense (4.75), shots per game (23.75), and SOG per game (11.13). While two players -- freshman Channing Foster and junior CeCe Kizer -- have contributed with 17 of those, it hasn't stopped many other Rebels from playing a factor in the scoring column thus far. Eighteen different players have either scored or carded an assist thus far, with 15 different players scoring and 12 different Rebels dishing out helpers. To go along with Foster and Kizer's 17 combined goals, seven other Rebels (Bella Fiorenzo, Grace Waugh, Julia Phillips, Mary Kate Smith, Gabby Little, Molly Martin, Alley Houghton) all have multiple goals this season.
DON'T DOUBT THE DEFENSE While the obvious highlight this season has been the goal scoring, the Rebel backline and defense hasn't gone unnoticed, either. Through eight games, the Rebels have allowed just one goal in the 1-1 draw with No. 23 Michigan. The seven shutouts are already better than the four accumulated in all of 2016, and the Rebels have been near dominant in not even allowing an attack with only 41 shots taken by opponents. Junior goalkeeper Marnie Merritt and sophomore Claire Williams have been solid in goal, only having to make 15 combined stops thus far. With their seventh shutout of the season in the win over Memphis (Sept. 10), the Rebels broke the school record for the longest time holding opponents scoreless at 564 minutes, snapping the 2012 record of 483 minutes.
MORE HISTORY FOR UNBEATEN REBELS The Rebels become only the third team in school history to go unbeaten through the first eight games. Most recently, the 2012 team started off 8-0 and went on to win 13 games, while the 2002 team also went 7-0-1 through the first eight, also en route to a 13-win season and trip to the NCAA Tournament. It also marks just the fifth time Ole Miss will enter SEC play undefeated, and first in five years.
FOSTER CARDS GAME-WINNER AT MEMPHIS Freshman Channing Foster again found her offensive stride, providing the only successful strike with a late first-half goal to seal the win. Foster, who took seven of the Rebels' 11 shots, made the most of her attempt in the 43rd minute that would last as the only tally on the scoreboard. With the clock winding down nearing halftime, CeCe Kizer played to her from midfield on a give-and-go, and Foster did the rest with an impressive, left-footed strike that would sail roughly 35 yards into the back right corner.
Grace Johnson NAMED TO NATIONAL TEAM OF WEEK A freshman who's started in every game thus far, Grace Johnson was named to TopDrawerSoccer's National Team of the Week on Tuesday after helping the Rebels to two more clean sheets. Her efforts on the backline (624 minutes) have helped Ole Miss to seven shutouts in eight contests.
REBELS BACK IN NATIONAL POLLS Thanks to an undefeated start through the first four weeks of play, the Rebels are back in the top-25 of the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Top 25, checking in at No. 24 in Tuesday's release. It marks the first appearance in the top 25 for Ole Miss since Aug. 23, 2016, when they were No. 19. The Rebels are one of only six teams in the top 25 with an undefeated record thus far.
OLE MISS HOUSES FLORIDA STATE SOCCER DURING HURRICANE IRMA Ole Miss was on the road for last Friday's match in Memphis when Florida State head coach Mike Krikorian called in a time of need. At that point, Hurricane Irma was making its way up the Florida straits, forcing the closing of schools in the Sunshine State. The Seminoles needed somewhere to go for the duration of the event, so Ole Miss soccer opened its doors to FSU. Florida State had a game scheduled in Tallahassee on Tuesday against Troy, but that was later rescheduled to be played in Troy on Wednesday. When Irma passed, the Seminoles headed for Birmingham on Monday, before ultimately returning home.
BRICK BY BRICK Each season, the senior class is tasked with creating a new team motto for the fall. This year's class of Liza Harbin, Courtney Carroll, Danielle Gray and Bella Fiorenzo chose Brick by Brick, or #B3, for the program. The idea stemmed from a couple of different reasons, one being the renovation of the Gillom Center, which houses the locker room, team room, training room, and weight facility. The Ole Miss Soccer Stadium also saw a new playing surface laid down, further reiterating the Brick by Brick mantra. It also was created with the mindset of a positive spring after a somewhat disappointing season last fall, with the hopes of the foundation and the future of the program only looking up.
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