Steady Leader: Capocaccia excited about her senior season at Ole Miss
By John Davis, Sports Editor
Ole Miss had a milestone season in soccer last year. Wins over Murray State and Clemson in the NCAA Tournament will be remembered for a long time, and for the players that are returning to the team, last year serves as a motivation for a better 2016.
Melissa Capocaccia is heading into her senior season with the Rebels. The 5-foot-3 defensive midfielder from Memphis said the team is working hard in order to keep things moving in the right direction.
“Everyone is excited, everyone is working very hard this summer. We pretty much have the entire team back and I’ve been impressed with everyone’s attitude and effort across the board,” she said. “Everyone has that standard now and the freshmen expect that standard. I think it’s been passed along to our team to raise the bar a little bit.”
Looking back to last season, Capocaccia said it was a fun year all around. She felt like the team really got going last fall when the beat Arkansas and South Carolina. The victory over Arkansas came in the last seconds of the match, in double overtime, while South Carolina was a shutout.
“It wasn’t too bad to win at Texas A&M either,” Capocaccia said with a laugh. “It’s been a good battle between us two. It was definitely a good feeling to break their winning streak at home.”
Another trip to the NCAA Tournament, and some more big wins during the regular season, are the goals of the Rebels in 2016.
“There a lot of little goals, but the goal for the end of the season, in the back of our mind, is to be back in the NCAA Tournament,” she said. “My summer has been a little different. I went home and I’ve been rehabbing my back. It wasn’t as strenuous as past summers, but it was in other ways. I had to focus on things that I could do. I had to be out the first month and a half of the summer and then I could do little things like a bike ride or swimming.”
The back injury has come over the course of her soccer career. Little injuries are something she has endured.
“It’s nothing huge, it’s something we had to work on,” said Capocaccia who is one of three sisters to play soccer in college. “My sister started playing competitive soccer before any of us. I have another older sister as well. My middle sister started playing when I was in the second grade. It was the kind of thing where I would always be out there watching her and the coach was like ‘Why don’t you come out and play?’ We just kind of fell in love with it and then my older sister started playing competitively as well.”
Soccer just stuck for Capocaccia who said her biggest moment up to this point was playing against both her sisters at Tennessee.
“It was very, very fun. (Ole Miss) didn’t come out with the outcome that we wanted as a team, but as their sister, it was very, very fun,” Capocaccia said. “They would do something good on the field and I would say ‘Good job Caroline’ as we would be running to chase the ball the other way. It was just back and forth. It was a very fun time.”
Defense is the side of the ball Capocaccia gravitated to because she likes to see things in front of her. She thought it was easier, and on offense, everyone was around her.
“You have a more predictable scenario when everything is in front of you,” she said.
Gretchen Harknett and Georgia Russell share an apartment, and Mackenze Parma, another senior, has been with Capocaccia since kindergarten.
“Our team isn’t really clique. We all hang out with each other. No one person is closer than another,” she said.
Former Lafayette High standout Alley Houghton is now with the Rebels, and Capocaccia said that Houghton brought a lot of personality to the team.
“Usually freshmen are a little timid. She’s not afraid,” Capocaccia said adding that each new class is different in their own ways. “Every single class has their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s been a good balance with everything.”
Graduate school is where Capocaccia will studying starting in August. Speech pathology was her major and she is interested in working with children with speech impediments.