No. 13 soccer back at home for bout against Louisiana Tech

Published 2:41 pm Thursday, September 1, 2022


• Ole Miss remains undefeated after a pair of road matches last week, defeating Middle Tennessee, 4-0, and earning a scoreless draw at Samford.
• Ole Miss’ four-match shutout streak to start the season is tied for the longest in program-history. The Rebels also opened with four clean sheets in 2003 and 2011.
• The Rebels will return home to take on Louisiana Tech on Thursday before hitting the road again for Sunday’s match at UCF in Orlando.
• Thursday’s meeting will be the first ever between Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech.
• Ole Miss will be looking to avenge last season’s 3-0 defeat to UCF on Sunday.
• The Rebels are one of 14 teams in the nation to not allow a goal this season.
• Senior Ashley Orkus is one of three keepers with four clean sheets in 2022.
• At 3.00 goals per game, Ole Miss is the nation’s 20th-ranked scoring offense.
• The Rebels rank fifth in total assists with 15, while Taylor Radecki ranks third in the nation with four assists.
• Ole Miss is ranked 13th in the United Soccer Coaches Poll

Steve Voltz enters his second season as head coach of Louisiana Tech soccer after leading LA Tech as interim head coach in 2021. In his first season in Ruston, Voltz  guided a young squad consisting of 18 newcomers, including 15 freshmen, to a 6-8-3 overall record and a 2-4-2 league mark. the team ended 2021 strong going unbeaten in four of the last five matches.

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The momentum is carrying into this season as Tech is 2-1-1, picking up wins over Murray State  and Abilene Christian. LA Tech hit the road for the first time this season for their first ranked opponent this Thursday. The game starts a four game road stretch.

The Bulldogs have scored four goals each by a different player. Defender Kalli Matlock leads the team in points with three and shots with eight. Matlock scored in the season opener against Murray State and dished out an assist against Northwestern State. Freshman forward Riley Bonadie has dished out two of LA Tech’s assists.

Sophomore keeper Sydnee Korchak is 2-0-1 with both wins being shutouts. The native Canadian has allowed just one goal this season, making 13 saves. She also earned C-USA Goalkeeper of the Week this past week. Korchak surpassed her minutes played and saves from her freshman season. The Bulldogs also started Libe Banuelos against Northwestern State. The Bilbao, Spain native is coming off a strong freshman season in 2021. Banuelos started 12 games, allowed 18 goals and made 61 saves.

Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech will compete for the first time in Oxford on Thursday. The Rebels are 61-39-11 in first time meetings. While LA Tech is 40-32-5 in first time meetings.

LAST GAME (8/28/22)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – No. 12 Ole Miss (3-0-1) and Samford (3-0-1) played to a hard fought scoreless draw on a sweltering afternoon at the Samford Soccer Stadium on Sunday.

The opposing offenses struggled to break down their counterparts on both ends of the pitch, with Samford holding a narrow 7-6 lead in shots on the day. Ashley Orkus was called up four times and came up with the goods each time for her fourth clean sheet of the season.

While both teams fought hard throughout, not much action materialized until the closing minutes of the first half.

Just minutes after Samford missed a golden chance in front of goal to take the lead, Stella Downing nearly broke through for the Rebels with a darting solo run in the dying seconds of the period, ultimately sending a shot straight at the keeper.

Disaster nearly struck in the 53rd minute for Ole Miss as keeper Ashley Orkus was called for a foul in the box, resulting in a Samford penalty. However, the ensuing shot from Kylie Gazza was wide.

The stroke of fortune immediately lifted the intensity from the Rebel side as Ole Miss grew back into the game and created a number of half chances of its own.

In the 68th minute, Mo O’Connor nearly set Ramsey Davis through on goal with a ball over the top, thwarted only by an excellent recovery run from the Samford defender. Just a couple of minutes later, Downing found Lauren Montgomery alone at the top of for a shot that drifted wide.

After weathering another storm from the home team, Ole Miss pushed for the winner in the final five minutes of the match. However, the Rebels couldn’t break through, settling for a draw.

Ole Miss remains in the top-15 at No. 13 in the most recent edition of the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The team has been ranked all three weeks to start the season. The Rebels have been ranked inside the top-15 in three consecutive seasons, climbing to No. 14 in 2020 and No. 13 in 2021.

Ole Miss’ streak of four straight clean sheets to open the season is its longest since the 2011 season, head coach Matt Mott‘s second campaign in Oxford. That season, the Rebels held their opponents off the board in each of the first four matches of the season.

Ole Miss’ offense is rolling but the defense has shutdown every opponent. The Rebels’ defense is minimizing the opposing offenses chances of scoring by keeping them from shooting. The opposing team has yet to shoot 10 times or more. Memphis came the closest with nine shots and six shots on goal.

Ole Miss is unbeaten at home in eight of the last nine home games dating back to September 16, 2021. Rebels start the season 2-0 at home, outscoring their opponents 8-0 in those games. The team plays three of the next four games at home.

Picking a ball off near midfield, 6th-year senior defender Sydney Michalak made a dazzling run before firing into the back of the net for Ole Miss’ second goal against Memphis. It was Michalak’s first goal since her collegiate debut in 2018, still playing as a forward at that time. The Rebel left back also helped Ole Miss lock up a pair of clean sheets during the week. For her efforts, Michalak was named to the Team of the Week.

Rebels’ 4-0 win at Middle Tennessee gave the team 39 points on the season which ranks second in the SEC. Marykate McGuire scored twice for the fourth time in her career and assisted on two other goals for a total of six points. McGuire’s two goals and six points are team season highs

While the first goal of any season is a special one, the Rebels’ opening tally of the 2022 season on Thursday came with a little extra meaning. Fourteen minutes into the match, redshirt-freshman Lauren Montgomery cleaned up a Mo O’Connor rebound and slid the ball under the keeper for her first collegiate goal, coming just over a year after tearing her ACL during the 2021 preseason and missing her true freshman campaign.

When the lights shine brightest, Rebel striker Mo O’Connor steps her game up to another level. Of O’Connor’s 15 career goals, eight have come against conference opposition, including five of seven goals in 2021. O’Connor’s five goals in league play last season were tied for the most in the conference.

In his 13th season at the helm of the Ole Miss program, Matt Mott is the fourth-longest tenured head coach in the SEC. Mott is also the third-longest tenured head coach active at Ole Miss.

SEC’s Longest Tenured Head Coaches
1. G Guerreiri (Texas A&M) – 29 seasons
2. Karen Hoppa (Auburn) – 24 seasons
3. Shelley Smith (South Carolina) – 22 seasons
4. Matt Mott (Ole Miss) – 13 seasons
5. Colby Hale (Arkansas) – 11 seasons

With the departure of star players like Channing Foster, Haleigh Stackpole and Molly Martin, Ole Miss will have plenty of firepower to replace in 2022. Foster finished her career with 44 goals, tied for the second most in program history, while Stackpole’s 31 career assists rank third all-time at Ole Miss, including 16 assists in 2021 alone. Meanwhile, Martin and her aerial threat led the Rebels with 10 goals a season ago. Overall, Ole Miss will need to replace 25-of-36 goals (69.4%), 23-of-44 assists (52.3%) and 73-of-116 points (62.9%) from the 2021 season.

Entering her fourth season between the posts for the Rebels, goalkeeper Ashley Orkus sits near the top in the Ole Miss record books in several statistical categories. Below is a breakdown of Orkus’ approach of program-records:

1. Kelly McCormick (2011-2014) – 297
2. Marnie Merritt (2014-18) 277
3. Ashley Orkus (2018-pres.) 264
4. Melinda Smith (1998-2001) 232

1. Kelly McCormick (2011-2014) – 42
2. Marnie Merritt (2014-18) – 40
3. Ashley Orkus (2018-pres.) – 35
4. Brittany Gillespie (2000-03) – 32

1. Ashley Orkus (2018-pres.) – 22
Kelly McCormick (2011-2014) – 22
Brittany Gillespie (2000-03) – 22
4. Marnie Merritt (2014-18) – 21
5. Ann Shelton (2004-07) – 18

Ole Miss is one of five SEC teams to receive a bid at least five of the last seven seasons (Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Texas A&M) and also one of five SEC teams to make four of the last five NCAA Tournaments.

For the second consecutive year, Ole Miss is ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll, coming in at No. 18. The Rebels were slotted at No. 23 in the 2021 preseason poll. Prior to last season, Ole Miss had never been ranked in the preseason by the United Soccer Coaches. The Rebels are one of four SEC teams ranked in the 2022 iteration of the poll, joining Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Ole Miss keeper Ashley Orkus was named to the 2022 Preseason Best XI First Team. It is the second consecutive year that the two-time defending SEC Goalkeeper of the Year has been named to the first team. Orkus has also received postseason Best XI honors from TopDrawerSoccer the last two seasons, earning a first team nod in 2020 and landing on the third team in 2021.

Orkus was also selected to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List for the third consecutive year. The senior was the only goalkeeper among the group of 15 players named a semifinalist for the 2021 edition of college soccer’s top individual honor.

Fans can keep up with all the goings on around the Ole Miss soccer program by following the Rebels on the team’s various social media platforms. You can find the Rebs on Twitter at @OleMissSoccer, on Instagram at @OfficialOleMissSoccer or on Facebook by search “Ole Miss Soccer”. Fans can also now follow Ole Miss on TikTok at @OleMissWSoccer.