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STILLWATER, Okla. - After a scoreless first half in which the Rice Soccer team out-shot No. 3 ranked Oklahoma State 4-3, OSU came back with four second half goals to claim a 4-0 win over the visiting Owls Sunday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla.
Rice freshmen Jasmine Isokpunwu, Holly Hargreaves and Danielle Spriggs, combined with sophomore Gabriela Iribarne to give the Owls a 4-3 lead on shots taken in the first half. The score was deadlocked 0-0 at the intermission, but Oklahoma State went on to put four goals on the board in the second stanza.
In the 51st minute, Megan Marchesano attempted a shot that Owl goalkeeper Amy Czyz was able to deflect away for a save. Cowgirl Kristen Kelly, however, opportunistically, corralled the deflection and scored on a follow-up shot from six yards out for a 1-0 advantage. OSU was back on the attack and stretched the margin to 2-0 with a goal in the 57th minute. This time Kelley headed-in a corner kick from Mercado Madison for her first second score of the day. The Cowgirls added a third goal in the 85th minute on Megan Marchesano's close-range shot after an end-line cross from Ali Stephenson. The day's final tally was Kendra Boydston's first score of the season in the 89th after a serve from Stephenson.
Oklahoma State finished the game with a total of 20 shots, including 15 on-goal. Czyz ended up tying her career-high with 11 saves, a mark that ties for the fourth-highest single-game saves total in Rice soccer history.
After a similar situation for Rice two days before where the team played a solid first half of soccer in a rowdy environment on the road, the Owls' steady play of the first 45 minutes did not match the second half. Rice head coach Nicky Adams has had enough déjà vu for one weekend road swing.
"This is two, back-to-back games this weekend where we were on the road and played a great first half of soccer, but only one great half," coach Adams said. "I saw a lot of positives this weekend and a lot of things we can build-on, but I just want to be clear that playing well for 45 minutes is not going to be satisfactory. Playing well for 60 or 80 minutes is not going to be enough, either. We are going to play hard, play smart, and play together for an entire game, until there is a final whistle.
The Cowgirls improved to 7-1-0 overall. Rice is now 2-4-1 on the season.
The Owls completed the weekend road games and are back home for their next outing. The Blue & Gray host another Big 12 power, Oklahoma, on Friday (Sept. 14) at 7pm. It is of note that on Sept. 7 (two days before Rice met OSU), the Sooners defeated this same talented Cowgirl side in a Big 12 conference match. That "Bedlam soccer" outcome was not lost on coach Adams.
"We are not just scheduling games at random, it's by design," Adams explained. "We scheduled these road games at a nationally-ranked team (OSU) and at a defending conference champion (Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 7) because we are trying to prepare for our conference games, the conference tournament, and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma is another outstanding team coming up. We'll have them at home and we had better learned something from today's game."