Sept. 10, 2006
HOUSTON -- Rice senior goalkeeper Amy McClintock made a career-high 10 saves while junior midfielder Samantha Conn scored the game's lone goal and made a dramatic defensive save of her own as the Rice soccer team remained undefeated on the season with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the eighth-ranked Texas Longhorns before a vocal crowd of 906 Sunday evening at the Rice Soccer Stadium. With its first-ever win over a top 10 team the Owls improved to 5-0-1 for their best start in school history.
In the 35th minute Rice freshman Shelly Wong played the ball out of Longhorn's right corner with a cross to Conn at the top-center of the 18. Conn took a moment to settle the ball with a touch and blasted her only shot of the game high to the right side of the goal. The ball slipped just inside the post into the side netting for the lone score of the night. It was Conn's second goal of the season as well as the second time this year for the former Brazoswood High School star to notch the Owls' game-winning goal.
"We had a ton of people all in the box looking to score, not just on that play but at a lot of different times tonight," Conn said. "Shell' probably had some choices and could have served it to any one of us. I' m glad she picked me. I took a swing for the far right post and it worked. We all worked hard the whole game and we all played well.
"We think we're the best Rice soccer team in school history but we knew that we definitely had not yet played like we were the best soccer team in Rice history," Conn explained. "We finally played together the entire game and we know what we're capable of now."
The Longhorns continued to apply offensive pressure and outshot Rice 20-11 on the night, but McClintock was up to the task with a career-high 10 saves. The senior from St. Louis who originally joined the team as a walk-on, made eight saves in the second half and five during a 10-minute stretch late in the contest.
"Texas is talented and they keep coming at you," a muddied McClintock said. "I thought our defense played well, tonight and the last few games actually. On Friday (a shut out win vs. Houston Baptist) they barely even let the ball come over to my half of the field. I actually prefer those kind of games, but tonight was fun too."
The Rice keeper was right. Texas still kept coming. In the 77th minute UT took a shot that McClintock aggressively came offer line to her right to make a diving stop on the attempt. The ball deflected away but the Horns quickly played the carom for a follow-up attempt. McClintock may have been unable to return to her spot in time, but Conn alertly stepped in behind the keeper, got a leg on the ball and stabbed the potential game-tying goal away to safety.
That Conn delivered the knock-out against the country's eighth-ranked team is even more impressive when considering that only two days before she was the one who was knocked out. Late in the first half of Friday night's game, Conn was knocked unconscious on the field after colliding with HBU player on a 50-50 ball. She was safely revived by the University's training staff, but could only watch in the second half as the Owls coasted to that 4-0 victory.
"Doctors told us told right before tonight's game that Sam was cleared to play, so we're thankful for that," said Rice head coach Chris Huston. "We (the Rice coaching staff) told her at the game against Texas last year that she is one of the best players on the field, and we told her again before the game tonight. Tonight she proved it. She's a great player and got up for a big game. She is a big reason why we can win balls in the midfield and I'm proud of her.
"I'm really, really, proud of all of them," Huston added. "The kids came out and did what we've been asking them to do all year and that was play 90 minutes. Tonight their work rate was great and they worked hard for each other. This is the best result in the history of our program."
Rice did indeed work for the full 90 minutes and was still searching for an insurance goal. Junior Clory Martin and freshman Stephanie Crain respectively took rapid, back-to-back shots in the 88th minute. Martin's hit off the post and Crain's follow -up went just wide on a hard angle.
The only blemish on the Owls record remains a scoreless tie on the road at Penn (Sept. 4). Texas, who had beaten No. 3 Penn State and No. 13 Illinois in back-to-back games a week ago, fell to 3-2 on the season.
The Blue & Gray wraps-up its current three-game homestand against crosstown foe Texas Southern on Sept. 13. Start time with the Tigers is slated for 7 pm.