Since the inception of Ole Miss Soccer back in 1995, the Rebels have made a name for themselves both on and off the pitch. 23 seasons in and Ole Miss has three SEC Western Division titles, seven NCAA Tournament appearances and more than 240 overall wins under its belt.
The program got its start under head coach Steve Holeman back in 1995, and it didn't take long for the Rebels to make some noise in the league. The first SEC Western Division crown came in 1999 when Ole Miss went 14-9 overall finishing first in the west despite a 4-5 record. One season later the Rebels took the title again thanks to a 13-6-1 overall record and 5-3-1 league mark to capture their second consecutive conference championship.
There to lead the way during that stretch was Jennifer Soileau, who to this day is scattered among the top-10 in various Rebel career records. Soileau, who ranks second all-time in career points (99) and tied for sixth in career goals (30), was Ole Miss' first NSCAA All-Region selection in school history earning the honor three-straight years from 1998-2000.
The 2002 season began a stretch of three NCAA Tournament appearances over a span of four years. The 2002 club went 13-5-2 overall and 5-3-1 in the SEC advancing to the NCAA Tournament first round for the first postseason appearance in school history. A year later, the Rebels won 15 games, second most in school history, en route to a second round appearance in the NCAAs.
The 2005 campaign brought Ole Miss its third SEC Western Division Title as the Rebels were 14-5-2 overall, winning a school record eight SEC matches. That team also appeared in the NCAA Tournament thanks in part to the efforts from the only Soccer America Freshman All-American in school history, Jennifer Hance. She was also a Soccer Buzz Freshman of the Year finalist, an NSCAA All-Region First Team honoree, and three-time All-SEC performer. Chrissy Strini was also a standout that year, earning Soccer Buzz All-America Honorable Mention honors as well as all-region status.
After two down seasons from 2007-08, the Rebels rose back to the top in 2009 winning 13 matches and seven league games on their way to another NCAA Tournament appearance. The 2009 campaign would be the last for head coach Steve Holeman, who finished his Ole Miss career with a 158-119-28 record, leading the Rebels to four NCAA Tournaments.
Holeman's efforts to lay the foundation for the future of the program were instrumental as current head coach Matthew Mott took over beginning with the 2010 season.
It took the squad a couple of years to rebuild in the early seasons under Mott, but it was well worth the wait as now Ole Miss has two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last four seasons.
The 2010 campaign brought Ole Miss its first ever player to be drafted in the women's soccer pro draft, as Rebel standout Danielle Johnson went 35th overall in the fourth round to the New Jersey Sky Blue FC.
In 2012 the Rebels were again winners of 13 games, which would start a streak of four-straight winning seasons.
Statistically speaking, the Rebels best season ever came in 2013 when they won a school record 16 games and went 7-3-1 in the SEC. That year the Rebels hosted their first ever NCAA Tournament game and dominated Jackson State in a 9-0 defeat before falling to No. 1 Florida State in the second round.
For his efforts, Coach Mott was honored as the 2013 NSCAA All-Region Coach of the Year. Also a highlight from the 2013 campaign was Rafaelle Souza, who was drafted 10th overall to the Houston Dash. Souza, the career record holder for points (108) and goals (44), is now a member of the Brazil women's national team.
The 2014 Rebels kept the winning streak alive going 8-6-5, setting up a miraculous 2015 campaign that went down in the books as the most historical to date.
Winners of 14 games overall and seven in the league, Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history, and made it all the way to No. 12 in the national rankings on Oct. 27, also a program best. After missing the Elite 8 by penalty kicks, the Rebels were ranked No. 16 in the final NSCAA poll, the best finish in program history.
The preseason poll had Ole Miss 10th, but the Rebels had other plans finishing third that included two wins over top-10 teams.
CeCe Kizer brought Ole Miss just its third SEC Freshman of the Year in school history as she was the leading freshman scorer in the country all season. She and Addie Forbus combined for 25 goals as the fifth-highest scoring duo in the nation.
The fan support was also instrumental in 2015 as the 11,087 fans broke the single-season attendance record, which put the Rebels No. 24 out of 333 Division I teams in total attendance for the year.
A year later in 2016, the Rebels were winners of nine contests overall making their 17th all-time appearance in the SEC Tournament. In a season with the toughest league slate of any team, and a string of unfortunate injuries, Ole Miss was able to maintain possession of the Magnolia Cup, defeating rival Mississippi State for the third-straight year.
The Rebels also said goodbye to a strong senior class of seven, who was responsible for 46 wins and two NCAA Tournaments in their careers. The class also completed four years having never lost to SEC opponents Alabama, Auburn or Mississippi State.
Of the class, two seniors - Gretchen Harknett and Addie Forbus - conclude their collegiate soccer careers with their names etched into the record books forever. Harknett, a native of Tennessee, earned her 85th start in her final match, putting her first in school history in career starts with 85. She and Forbus also finish tied for third in career participation with 86 games played each.
Forbus, a native of nearby Amory, goes down in the books as one of the most decorated offensive players in program history, finishing her career seventh in points (81), tied for sixth in goals (30) and sixth in assists (21).
The Rebels proved to be one of the top scoring teams in the country in 2017, ranking third in the nation in scoring offense at 2.70 goals per game. Ole Miss came out of the gates firing, tallying 16 goals in its first two games on the way to the fifth undefeated non-conference schedule in program-history. The Rebels concluded the non-league portion of their schedule with a 7-0-1 record, outscoring its opponents 38-1.
Ole Miss rounded out the season with a 10-7-3 record, earning a bid to the NCAA Championships for the third time in five years before bowing out in the first round to Florida State.
Kizer put together one of the most prolific seasons in the history of the program during her junior campaign, leading the SEC and ranking fifth in the nation in goals with 16 and seventh nationally in points with 39, both tied for fourth most in school-history. Kizer was recognized for her excellent play with just about every postseason award in the book, including earning a First Team All-SEC selection and becoming the first Rebel to be named an All-American by the United Soccer Coaches.
Kizer wasn't the only Rebel to light up the scoreboard. Freshman Channing Foster burst onto the scene in her first season in Oxford with 12 goals, the fifth most in the nation among freshman and the fifth-highest total in school-history for a freshman. For her efforts, Foster was selected Second Team All-SEC and also landed on the SEC All-Freshman team.
With the multitude of the program's success coming in recent years, it sure is a good sign for the future of Ole Miss Soccer.
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