HOUSTON, Texas -- The Rice soccer team took a 2-1 advantage over visiting Texas A&M into the intermission, but the No. 5 ranked Aggies scored three second half goals to claim a 4-2 win over the Owls in the season-opener for both teams Friday evening in Houston.
Rice was undeterred by thunderstorms that delayed the start of the contest for almost two hours (to 9 pm). The Owls jumped on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute when junior Jenny Fichera was awarded a penalty kick after getting brought down inside the 18 following a long sideline-to-sideline cross. Fichera rattled the PK off the frame, but in the goal for a 1-0 advantage.
Texas A&M came right back with an equalizer by Kate Hajdu in the 26th minute, but Rice soon returned the favor. In the 29th minute Rice took a free kick from the right wing that found senior Danielle Spriggs in traffic in front of the goal. Spriggs deflected the ball away, but true freshman Dominique Mazero alertly played the carom for a shot that found the back of the Aggie net for a 2-1 lead. Not only was the goal tallied on the freshman's first collegiate shot attempt, she became the first Owl in seven years to score a goal in her Division I debut.
Rice was looking for the upset with the 2-1 at the half, but A&M tied the game in the 49th minute on Hajdu's second score of the night. The Aggies moved in front with a McKayla Paulson goal in the 51st minute and added some breathing room with a second Paulson goal in the 60th.
Fichera and Mazero shared the Rice team lead with a pair of shots while the team took a total of nine attempts on the night. Owl goalkeeper Zoe Pochobradsky posted a career-high nine saves in her first career start.
The Blue & Gray next closes out the two-game weekend homestand with a match on Sunday (Aug. 23). Rice hosts former Western Athletic Conference rival San Jose State at 1 pm.