Soccer hopes to build on successful weekend

After a preseason national ranking but a rocky non-conference start, the Ole Miss soccer team appears to be ready to make a run at an SEC title after tying Tennessee and beating Georgia in weekend one of conference play.

A rigorous non-conference schedule appears to be paying off for the Lady Rebels soccer team now that it has entered SEC play.

After getting off to an average start, the Lady Rebel soccer team knocked off one ranked opponent and tied another to start off SEC play last weekend. Ole Miss tied 8th-ranked Tennessee 1-1 Friday night, while on Sunday afternoon beat 25th-ranked Georgia 3-0.

Coach Steve Holeman¹s UM team will host Southeastern Conference Western Division foes Arkansas and LSU this weekend.

"Winning the (SEC) West has always been one of our core goals," said Holeman, whose program accomplished that in 1999, 2000, and 2005. "So obviously when we have a weekend like this where we have two West teams coming to Oxford, there is a considerable amount of excitement."

Such excitement is expected following a weekend like the Lady Rebs had this past weekend. At the top of their game defensively, the Rebels allowed one goal all weekend to No. 8 Tennessee and No. 25 Georgia.

Senior goalkeeper Ann Shelton merited Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week honors after recording nine saves against Tennessee and a shutout against Georgia.

"Ann has been key to our success both last year and early this year. She is as good a goalie as you could ask for," Holeman said.

Last year, Shelton led the nation in average goals against, allowing a remarkable .286 goals a game. She shared goal-keeping duties with fellow junior Megan Vickery, who was lost for the season following an ACL injury.

"I hated losing Megan; she is such a great competitor and we really had a lot of chemistry," Shelton said. "Right now I¹m adjusting to playing 90 minutes a game."

Returning all the starters from last season, Holeman appears to have these Rebels ready for the tough SEC schedule thanks in large part to a non-conference schedule that saw Ole Miss match up with the likes of top-ranked Notre Dame, SMU, and Colorado.

"We¹re deep this year, so we¹re able to keep the girls' legs fresh, and if we come out ready to play we can hang with anybody in the country." Holeman said.

That depth comes from a freshman class that is considered one of the best rookie groups in school history. So far, eight of the Rebels 20 goals have been provided by freshmen.

"The new girls give us exactly what we need," senior defender Lyndsey Williams explained. "We had seen them play before and we knew what to expect; they have completely lived up to both the recruiting hype and our expectations."

"It's amazing," said freshman forward Hannah Weatherly, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week earlier this season following wins over USM and Memphis. "The older girls have been so wonderful, taking us under their wing but at the same time giving us responsibility."

The Lady Rebels go into the weekend sporting a 1-0-1 SEC record and a 5-4-1 overall record. They will be in action against Arkansas at 7 p.m. Friday and against LSU at 1 p.m. Sunday.

OM Spirit Top Stories