Aug. 26, 2011
FORT WORTH - Sophomore midfielder Jessica Howard's goal in the 68th minute gave the visiting Rice soccer team the lead, and a solid 90-minute defensive effort by the Owls made it stand up for a 1-0 road victory over longtime state rival TCU Friday night Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium in Fort Worth.
Rice controlled the tempo with a 26-9 advantage in shots and an 8-3 margin in corner kicks. Like the team's home-opening win over McNeese State last Sunday, the Owls didn't have anything to show for their effort on the scoreboard in the first half. On one sequence early in the game, Rice was offside on a breakaway that would have resulted in a 1-0 Owl lead. Rice was playing well, but the 0-0 deadlock at the intermission had head coach Nicky Adams' full attention.
"Our first 30 minutes was probably some of the best soccer we've played in a long time," said coach Adams. "One thing we've got to work on, and it's been our nemesis, is putting a game away in the first half. We could have helped take some of the pressure off ourselves by getting early goals, but coaches are never going to get upset when the team is creating shots and opportunities. As long as we're playing forward, taking shots, and getting chances, then the goals will come. We just have to finish.
"We're doing a really good job of finding numbers on the attack," Adams explained. "Now we've just got to string it all together. Every week we've been improving and improving, and that's been so encouraging. The girls played with a lot of fight tonight, which is exactly what we needed in a big road game against a very good team."
After a host offensive chances that the team had hustled to create, Rice got on the scoreboard after a set-piece in the 68th minute. Senior forward Annie Kadota served the corner kick into traffic just a few yards in front of the TCU goal. The Horned Frogs attempted to clear the ball away from danger, but Jessica Howard stepped-in for a close-range shot attempt and found the back of TCU net on the left-hand side.
The shot was Howard's fifth of the game, the most of any player in the contest, and all of which were in just 57 minutes of playing time. Getting offensive-minded is something of a trend she started Sunday against McNeese State where she came off the bench and let loose on seven shots in just 35 minutes of action. Her final shot taken Friday night proved to be the difference-maker in a narrow 1-0 final. The goal was Howard's first of the season and held-up as the third game-winning score of her collegiate career.
Rice freshman goalkeeper Amy Czyz notched her second complete-game shutout victory. Czyz posted a career-best four saves as the Owls moved to 2-1-0 overall.
"Amy did a nice job again," coach Adams said. "She's a freshman who plays with confidence and makes good decisions. I thought our backline and our midfield was solid. Our backline of Lauren (LaGro), Hayley (Williams), Rachel (Petmecky) and Amy (Beger) was phenomenal tonight. That was one of their best games as a unit. It's exciting that they're all so young (two sophomores and two juniors), but playing so well."
The win was Rice's first over TCU since 2007, and the first in Fort Worth since 2006. TCU dropped to 1-2-0 on the young season.
The Owls are back on campus for their next home match next week. The Blue & Gray hosts SEC power LSU on Sept. 2 at 7 pm at the Rice Soccer Stadium.