Being able to rotate players in and get quality minutes from more than just his starters should make any coach more relaxed—and far less stressed! Just ask Ole Miss Soccer head coach Matthew Mott, who played his entire team in Sunday’s 5-0 win over Austin Peay.
After his freshman forward CeCe Kizer scored her fourth goal of the 2015-16 season at the 57-minute mark, Mott took all of the starters out and played his reserves for the remainder of the game. Each Rebel saw game action and nine of the 19 players on the roster recorded at least one shot attempt, with Gretchen Harknett leading the way with five.
Mott is pumped about having a team that is aggressive and unselfish. It doesn’t matter who scores; it doesn’t matter who records an assist, just as long as the deed gets done. Seven different players have scored for Ole Miss this season.
“I’m really, really happy with that part of the team. They are very unselfish,” Mott said. “Gretchen (Harknett) and Addie (Forbus) are the best of friends; it helps a ton and CeCe (Kizer) has fit right in there. You look at Sara Coleman and Georgia (Russell) playing wide there. All are really unselfish. They are putting in great service and it’s really making us very dangerous.”
It’s meaningful for Mott to get the proper game experience out of all of his players, especially his reserves, because he feels it will play a pivotal role once Southeastern Conference action kicks off on Sept. 11 against Kentucky.
“In SEC play, it has to. We have got to be able to sub players and keep players rested,” said Mott, who is 55-40-12 in his coaching career. “It’s going to be crucial.”
Before the start of this season, the SEC released its annual preseason coaches’ poll and had the Rebels (3-0-1) finishing 10th in the conference. The Florida Gators topped the poll with 11 first-place votes, followed by Texas A&M, and the Kentucky Wildcats rounding out the top three.
But, Ole Miss isn’t thinking about preseason polls. The team is taking it one game at a time and wants each player to contribute. As it stands right now, Mott’s team is doing exactly that. Take Kizer and Bella Fiorenzo as two prime examples. Kizer scored the game’s first goal off a follow-up from middle fielder Jennifer Miller’s shot attempt. Fiorenzo, a 5-foot-7 sophomore out of Grand Rapids, Mich., scored the game’s last goal with a shot from 12 yards out on the left side.
In 31 minutes of play, Fiorenzo had two shot attempts, one goal, and one assist. Senior forward/middle fielder Olivia Harrison was the other Rebels’ reserve who recorded a shot attempt. When the bright lights come on, Mott says he doesn’t have to do a lot of coaching from the sideline because he has grown comfortable with his team’s ability to go out and execute.
“I think our coaching is done in practice, you know Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday” Mott said. “We don’t get timeouts; we get a lot of opportunities to call plays. So, we spend a lot of our training getting them prepared, scouting reports and when they get out there, a lot of that is on them.”
The Rebels will be back in action on Friday when they host the Central Florida Knights. The game will begin at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network + channel.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)