OXFORD, Miss. – After playing a bulk of the early season on the road, No. 24 Ole Miss (8-1-1, 1-0-0 SEC) will host its first weekend of home matches with contests against No. 7 Florida and Auburn at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
The Rebels will take on the Florida Gators at 7 p.m. on Friday before returning to action against the Auburn Tigers at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to all matches is free.
Fans can participate in several promotions this weekend, including a replica jersey T-shirt giveaway on Friday night for the first 300 fans in attendance. Sunday will also be Kid’s Day at the stadium with foam fingers and prizes given away to school age children.
“Florida is an excellent team,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “They’re fast and all over the field. They’ve been the best team in the conference for a number of years now. It will certainly be a very difficult test of us. It’s one we’re looking forward to. Auburn is a very good team as well. They’re very well organized. We need to be ready for them.”
The Rebels broke into the national rankings this week after improving to 8-1-1 on the season with a road victory at Arkansas last weekend to open SEC play and a home shutout of UALR.
Senior forward Rafaelle Souza connected with sophomore Olivia Harrison for two goals in the final 15 minutes of the match to lift the Rebels to the 2-1 win over Arkansas. Souza then scored a pair of goals in the first 10 minutes against UALR as Ole Miss picked up the 3-0 win.
Souza leads the nation in goals (11) and points (25) after notching a goal in seven of the first 10 matches this season. She is one of six Rebels to have scored a goal this season in a balanced offensive attack. Senior Mandy McCalla is second on the team with seven goals to date. Eight different players have tallied assists this year as the Rebels work to spread the ball around the field on the attack.
Defensively, the Rebels have been solid as well, allowing only seven goals this season with two of those goals coming on penalty kicks. Ole Miss has posted five shutout victories behind the solid play of an athletic back line and leadership of junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick. The five shutouts is three shy of the number of shutout victories posted a year ago by the Rebels.
Ole Miss has also played to one draw this season, tying then No. 13 Southern California 1-1 after two overtimes at the Minnesota Gold Classic in Minneapolis.
Florida (7-1-1, 1-0-0 SEC) enters the weekend ranked as high as seventh nationally and is coming off a 3-0 victory over Alabama at home to open conference play last weekend. The Gators’ lone loss this season came at the hands of nationally-ranked Florida State and the tie came with in-state rival South Florida.
The Gators attack is keyed by freshman Savannah Jordan with 10 goals this season. Though eight different players have notched goals this year, only three have posted multiple goals with Havana Solaun (4) and Pamela Begic (2) joining Jordan in multiple-goals to date.
Taylor Burke anchors the defense in the goal for the Gators, posting a 5-0-1 record this season and notching 17 saves through nine matches. She has surrendered only two of the six goals scored against Florida this season, while the Gators have notched 21 goals as a team.
Auburn (4-4-1, 0-1-0 SEC) enters the weekend after falling to Kentucky last weekend in the opening match of SEC play before shutting out Southern Miss on Sunday. The Tigers will travel to face South Carolina on Friday night before heading to Oxford for the Sunday showdown.
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