Aug. 21, 2011
HOUSTON - The Rice soccer team turned up the heat with second half goals from Amy Beger, Annie Kadota and Alex Burton to claim a 3-0 victory over visiting McNeese State Sunday afternoon at the Owls' soccer stadium in Houston.
With a 14-2 advantage in shots in the first half Rice was on the move offensively, but the teams were deadlocked 0-0. Both squads battled a midday game-time temperature that was in the high 90s for the full length of the contest, but the Owls finally pushed through in the second half to put a goal on the scoreboard.
"We were taking to many touches in the first half," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "Too many touches ended up slowing us down. It was something we addressed at halftime, that we need to increase our speed of play."
In the 57th minute freshman Lauren Busansky played the ball from the top of the 18 back to junior defender Amy Beger sprinting-in along the right sideline. Beger was sprinting and Busansky was quick on the pass. The Owls had taken Adams' halftime instructions to heart.
"There were a bunch of girls heading right for her," Beger recounted. "Buzz just played it back to me and I saw a gap. I was sure I could get it to the corner (of the goal)."
Beger sailed the long shot attempt that found the back of the net on the left-hand side. Her first goal in three years (with one year sidelined due to an injury) gave the Blue & Gray the lead.
Rice continued to press in the attacking third, holding a 16-2 margin on shots and a 5-1 lead in corner kicks for the second period. The Owls broke the narrow 1-0 game wide open with goals in the 79th and 85 minutes. Senior Annie Kadota scored her first goal of the young season with a close-range attempt after a long cross from Nikki Storness on the left side. Alex Burton fielded Storness' serve, and set it up for Kadota on a quick give-and-go shot that made it 2-0.
Burton then came back with a goal of her own only a few plays later. Junior defender Lauren LaGro took a shot from outside the 18 on the left side that McNeese was able to punch away. Burton, however, was opportunistically on patrol in the keeper's box and alertly played the deflection from just a few feet away for the Owls' third goal of the day.
In the victory the Owls held a 30-4 advantage in shots, the seventh-highest single-game total in the program's history. Sophomore midfielder Jessica Howard came off the bench to lead all players with seven shot attempts, the most by an Owl in a single game in three years.
""We had a lot of attacks today, but we attacked better in the second half and began finishing on plays," Nicky Adams explained. "In the first half we wanted to find that 'hero-ball' all day, but once we started going to our simplest option it jump-started us."
Almost lost in the offensive fireworks was a sound and solid effort by the Rice back line that held MSU in check. Rice freshman keeper Amy Czyz played the full 90 minutes and posted a pair of saves in her first shutout victory at the Division I level.
"I am happy for the win and saw good things we can build on," Adams said. "I was happy with Amy getting that goal. I thought Alex Burton played well and obviously Annie coming off the bench and getting a goal is huge.
"One person I was really proud of was Lauren Busansky," Adams added. "Today we put her in a role that she hadn't trained for and she did a magnificent job. She completed that first pass and it calmed us down. Lauren did what she was asked, and did it well, and as coaches that really gets our attention."
Rice improved to 1-1 on the season. McNeese State dropped to 0-2-0.
The Owls are back on the road for their next game on Aug. 26. Rice plays at TCU on Friday at 7 pm in its only game action of next week.