By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss Rebels soccer team returns to the pitch today as they play host to the University of North Alabama Lions at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +.
The Rebels were picked to finish seventh in the 2018 preseason poll but actually tied for third with a 13-8-1 overall record and 6-3-1 in league play. Ole Miss returns 14 letter winners from the 2018 roster, seven of whom were regular members of the starting XI.
This season, the Rebels have to replace goalie Marnie Merrit who was a four-year starter for the red and blue. Sophomore transfer from Tennessee, Ashley Orkus, looks poised to take over between the posts.
The club returns 55% of its scoring output from a year ago, including Channing Foster and Haleigh Stackpole, who ranked second and third on the team with eight and five goals, respectively.
North Alabama was picked to finish sixth in the 2019 Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Poll, the same position they landed in their first season in the league. UNA finished the 2018 campaign with an 11-9-1 overall record, reaching the championship match of the ASUN Tournament.
UNA returns 16 letter winners from a year ago, including eight members of the Starting XI. Senior defender Haley Yarber is the team’s lone representative on the Preseason All-ASUN team, while 2018 goal leader Shelby Wall also returns for her senior season. With last season’s starting keeper Shelby Thornton departed, senior Savannah Stewart returns to play goalie.
This match will be the first-ever meeting between Ole Miss and North Alabama. The Lions are in their second season at the Division I level, moving up from Division II in 2018 and joining the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Ole Miss travels to Memphis on Sunday to take on the Tigers. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.