Are you ready for some futbol?
The SEC Network is ready.
The Ole Miss and Georgia soccer clubs will square off in the first live regular-season event televised by the SEC Network, the 24-hour multiplatform sports network focused solely on the SEC. Start time is 7 p.m. ET from the Ole Miss Soccer Complex in Oxford, Miss.
Host Ole Miss is coming off one of the finest seasons in program history, posting a 16-6-2 overall record and a 7-3-1 mark in league play – the most wins (16) in school history. The Rebels advanced to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual NCAA runner-up Florida State.
“It’s an honor for us to open up on the SEC Network,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Mott told Georgiadogs.com. “Our team is excited about it and our fans are excited about it. We’re very lucky to be hosting and we have a great opponent in Georgia.”
Georgia narrowly missed an NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago. The Bulldogs posted a 12-7-1 record in 2013, including a 5-5-1 mark in the SEC. Georgia returns six starters and 17 letterwinners from last year’s squad.
Georgia head coach Steve Holeman also spoke to Georgiadogs.com. “What an incredible opportunity for us. We were given the opportunity to adjust our schedule and play Ole Miss on the SEC Network; it was an opportunity that we could not miss out on. Our staff and team are very excited.”
Holeman, the longest-tenured active head coach in the SEC, is in his fifth season leading the Georgia program after serving as the head coach at Ole Miss from 1995-2009.
Opening a soccer season with a conference match is a rarity that has altered preseason practices.
“We always want to be ready with the first game, but there is a different intensity level with a conference game,” Mott said. “It’s such an important game, but we’ve had enough time to get prepared mentally and physically. I like where we are as a team.”
The importance of Friday’s outcome is lost on neither team, as the winner will take an early lead in the conference race weeks before the remainder of the league slate begins in mid-September.
“Our team is motivated and they’re ready,” Holeman said. “You know that you have a chance, in one match, to either lead the conference or be chasing from behind on day one. We know how big of a game this is.”
Marion Crowder, an SEC All-Freshman selection and a second-team NSCAA All-South Region pick in 2013, echoes her coach’s sentiments.
“Our preseason has been way more focused, driven and direct,” Crowder said. “This is a really good opportunity starting with conference and going to non-conference. Playing Ole Miss, we will get a look at what we need to work on and then going out of conference, we’ll be able to tweak the things that didn’t work Friday and pursue the things that did. I think this will play to our strengths.”
Mott expects a big crowd at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex on Friday to witness a historic match between two strong SEC soccer programs.
“I think we will have a huge crowd. We hope to set an attendance record and have a fun night of SEC soccer.”