Sept. 10, 2011
PROVO, Utah - Rice freshman goalkeeper Amy Czyz tied a career-high with four saves and notched her fourth complete game shutout of the young season as the Owl soccer team battled No. 20 ranked BYU to a 0-0 tie Friday night in Provo, Utah.
After 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods, both defenses proved unyielding in a scoreless deadlock. Rice head coach Nicky Adams wanted to make it clear that the Owls play to win. She also knows, however, that the team can build on the energized performance it logged Saturday against a Top 20 team on the road, not to mention that it was with a true freshman in goal before a vocal crowd of almost 2,000 BYU fans. After a 1-0 loss at undefeated Utah State on Thursday, the head coach saw a much-needed shift in team's energy.
"BYU is a national powerhouse that has made a lot of appearances, and has done well, in the NCAA Tournament," Coach Adams said. "We had a totally different energy level tonight, defensively and offensively. Defensively we did what we needed to do against BYU, make them go backward most of the game. They're a high-powered offense that uses three forwards. We did exactly what we needed to do. On the offensive side, we were able to string together passes, and we had really very good opportunities on half of our ten shots."
Rice (now 4-2-1) was quick to get on the offensive. In fact, the Owls were so anxious to get on the attack the team was flagged for offside in the opening minute of the contest. The Blue & Gray went on to hold a 7-3 advantage in shots in the first half. Just before the intermission in the 44th minute, Owl sophomore Hayley Williams came extremely close on a header and managed to hit the post.
"We were offside twice, and both of those were by a couple of steps," Coach Adams said. "We were getting into the final third, and sometimes players get excited about making something happen in a big game. Jessica Howard had maybe her best performance at running the offense and creating plays up front. She played well, and so did Julia Barrow and Hope Ward, who was a workhorse in the midfield. Hayley hit the post and had two legitimate headers off corners. She had another great game, on both offense and defense.
"Our entire backline, Hayley, Rachel Petmecky, Alexandra Trenary, Lauren LaGro and Amy Beger were phenomenal tonight," she added. "We told them what we needed them to do and they did it for 110 minutes tonight."
The backline came up big on defense and certainly helped their freshman keeper into two overtime frames, but Czyz also came up with a game-saving play of her own. In the game's 99th minute, where the first overtime was winding down to its conclusion, BYU made a long shot in to traffic in front of the Rice goal. There was a mad series of collisions for the ball by players from both teams. The situation was similar to Rice's game just last week against LSU where there was a scramble in front of the goal in the closing minute of overtime.
In that game, Rice won the scramble and put the ball in the back of the LSU net for home win. Now it was once again late in overtime, only the situation was reversed with the ball in front of the Owls' goal. The 5-foot-4 Czyz made an athletic play to get her hands on the ball and get Rice out of danger.
"I'm still not sure how Amy got that ball," Coach Adams explained. "That was an unbelievable save. She plays all-out.
"The Rice soccer team, everyone, showed-up to play," the head coach added. "It was night-and-day from (the game on) Thursday. It's amazing what happens when the Rice soccer team shows up to play, and we put all of their energy into a common objective. It's very contagious. It's exciting. That's what Rice soccer is about. "The effort we had tonight was amazing. We want to have this energy for all the games the rest of the season."
The Owls completed the two-game weekend road trip through Utah and return back home for their next three games. Rice next hosts Western Kentucky at 7 pm on Saturday, Sept. 17, to wrap-up the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Owls then begin C-USA league play on Sept. 23-25 with home games against UAB and Memphis, respectively.