HOUSTON -- Senior Lauren Hughes scored the first goal and quickly assisted on the second to help pace the Rice soccer team to a 2-0 victory over longtime foe Sam Houston State Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.
The Owls posted their third-straight win of the season and second 2-0 shutout of the weekend to improve to 3-1 overall. In similar fashion to Friday's 2-0 road win at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Hughes again put Rice on the board with a first half goal. That proved to be all the margin the Blue & Gray would need in the first women's collegiate soccer game played in the history of the city's sparkling downtown stadium.
Rice had the clear edge in possession in the first half, but had to battle to almost the very end of the period to finish on two of its 17 shots before the intermission. Freshman Annie Walker was the catalyst off the bench to help get the Owls on the scoreboard. After entering late in the first half and contributing four shots of her own, the rookie from Michigan brought the ball down the left sideline and crossed to the senior tandem of Danielle Spriggs and Hughes hustling into the keeper's box. Hughes took the pass in front of the far post and chipped a quick shot attempt to the back of the Bearkat net for a 1-0 lead.
The goal was Hughes' third of the season and third in as many games. Like a broken record, the senior from Ottawa, Canada, has been breaking her own school record for career goals in each of the recent outings. It was late in the period (the 41st minute) when Hughes' added her 35th career goal, but the half wasn't quite over. The Owls weren't quite finished either, and had more than enough time with a speedy second goal.
Just a little over a minute later, 1:02 officially, Rice was again back on the scoreboard. This time the Owls made a midfield steal and got the ball to Hughes on a dribble at the top of the 18. When the Bearkat defense made the move to commit to contain Hughes, she passed over to sophomore Nia Stallings sprinting along parallel. Stallings converted on her first shot attempt of the day for her first goal of the season to double the margin to 2-0. Not only is the 62 seconds elapsed between the scores the sixth-fastest turnaround time between Rice goals in school history, it's the quickest back-to-back Owl goals since 2006.
Rice goalkeeper Zoe Pochobradsky notched her second-straight complete game shutout. She finished with a pair of saves, including a sensational stop of a Sam Houston State penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
The Owls successfully answered the weekend's challenge of playing away from home. Rice is back on campus for its next two matches. The Blue & Gray host former conference rival SMU on September 3 at 6 pm, a special Thursday night clash and not the usual Friday game-night. Rice then hosts SEC power Arkansas on Sept. 6 (Sunday) at 7 pm.