OXFORD, Miss. After one weekend of Southeastern Conference soccer action, four Western Division teams came through with unblemished records. Ole Miss (4-3-3, 1-0-1 SEC) will host two of the other unbeaten division foes with a 6 p.m. Friday showdown with Auburn (6-2-1, 2-0-0 SEC) and a 2 p.m. Sunday contest against Alabama (8-2-1, 1-0-1 SEC).
The first 300 fans at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium on Friday will receive a complimentary red T-shirt for “Red Alert Night.” Sunday is Faculty and Staff Day at the stadium. An Ole Miss faculty/staff member who shows a University ID will receive free admission for four family members.
The Rebels started SEC play on the road last weekend and earned a 2-1 win over Arkansas in overtime before playing to a 1-1 draw at LSU. Jennifer Hance scored both goals in the Friday night win, netting a ball in the 89th minute before scoring again five minutes into the overtime period.
Senior midfielder Chrissy Strini continues to lead the Rebels statistically this year. She boasts a team-high eight points and two assists and is tied with Hannah Weatherly for the club lead with three goals scored. Junior goalkeeper Megan Vickery ranks second in the SEC and 24th in the nation with a 0.54 goals-against average, having surrendered just five goals in over 830 minutes between the posts.
Defending SEC West Champion Auburn brings its solid win-loss record to Oxford on Friday in what has become a legitimate soccer rivalry over the years. The Rebels and Tigers have claimed the last eight SEC West crowns. Since 1999, the winner of the regular-season matchup between the two squads has gone on to win the division title all but twice (a 1-0 Ole Miss victory in 2001 and last year’s scoreless tie).
“These are two critical games for us this weekend, as they are all becoming at this point in the season,” said Ole Miss head coach Steve Holeman, who is looking to improve on his 5-8-1 record in the all-time series against his former team. “Auburn is the defending SEC Western Division champ, and if you want to win the West, you have to get through Auburn. They have a very talented team and went undefeated last weekend against two good teams. We will have to be at our best.”
The Tigers have six wins to just two losses and one tie thus far. They have been a perfect 5-0 at home, including SEC wins over Kentucky (4-1) and Vanderbilt (2-1), but just 1-2-1 away from Auburn. Becca Howell and Ashley Marks are tied for the team lead with three goals apiece, while Caitlin King has racked up an impressive five assists in the early going.
A much-improved Crimson Tide squad has already flown by its win total from a year ago (5) and carries an impressive 8-2-1 resume into the weekend. Alabama earned a 1-1 tie against Vanderbilt over the weekend before downing Kentucky 2-1. Tied for the league’s highest scoring total, the Tide have used a balanced attack with Carly Mygrants, Kailey Corken and Victoria Frederick all with four or more goals.
"Alabama has been very successful so far and we know they are a hard-working team that will bring a competitive game on Sunday,” said Holeman, whose Rebels hold a slim 7-6 lead in the all-time series. “It’s a huge challenge for us to get through this home weekend without a loss. Our girls know how important this weekend is, though, and we’ll be ready.”