Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt doesn’t feel any pressure of replacing last year’s starting goalkeeper Kelly McCormick. Her performance says it all.
Merritt didn’t see any action for Ole Miss last season since more experienced players were in front of her, but she picked their brains for knowledge to prepare herself for an opportunity to start as the team’s goalkeeper.
“I don’t feel the pressure as much, because I am having fun. It’s just soccer,” the Huntersville, North Carolina native said to the media following the Ole Miss Rebels’ shutout win against Boise State.
After the 4-0 victory over the Broncos, Merritt broke out with her signature gesture, a smile. Thanks to the 10 starters from last season’s 8-6-5 team, Merritt has been able to fit in well with this year’s Ole Miss soccer team. When Merritt stepped onto the University of Mississippi campus in 2014, head coach Matthew Mott was hopeful Merritt would come in right away and play a significant role to an experienced group.
So far, Merritt hasn’t disappointed and she’s wasn’t afraid to step in behind McCormick, the defensive specialist who finished her career at the university as the all-time leader in multiple categories in goal, including the leading spot in career goalkeeping wins (42).
“I don’t think there was pressure in the first place. I learned a lot last year from Kelly (McCormick) and Madi (Killeen),” Merritt said. “It’s just nice that we got a great win today and we are able to connect passes. Samantha (Sanders) has been fantastic in helping me out, teaching me so much. I don’t think there was as much pressure. Pressure is fun.”
In the Rebels 2-0 win against Central Arkansas in an exhibition match and road season-opening tie at Florida Gulf Coast University, Merritt didn’t allow a single ball to go through the net. Against the Eagles, Merritt recorded two saves to complete the shutout. Florida Gulf Coast sent 11 shot attempts Merritt’s way, but she sent each attempt in opposite directions.
Despite the game ending in a scoreless tie, Mott was pleased with the effort she displayed in her first-ever game as a Rebel.
“She’s great; she looks the part. She looks like a veteran,” Mott said about the 5-foot-7 Hough High product. “She’s in charge back there. She’s organized. On Friday night, she was big time for us and we expect for her to be good all season for sure, but I’m really happy with her, certainly as a freshman.”
The former All-America selection in high school is always prepared for battle. She comes into each game with the mindset of racking up as many saves as she can, just as long Ole Miss comes out on top when the final horn sounds. Merritt feels cool, calm, and collected with the team, despite only playing in two regular season games and one exhibition match.
“I am very open and willing to feedback and the girls have been so helpful and very welcoming,” Merritt said about her teammates. “They know that I am in a tough position coming into the only spot that was needed to be filled. Like I have said, the upperclassmen have been so welcoming and so helpful in teaching me how Ole Miss Soccer is supposed to be played.”
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)