TULSA, Okla. -- The Rice soccer team jumped out to a three goal lead and hung-on for a hard-fought 3-2 road victory over Tulsa in the finale of the Golden Hurricane Classic Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma.
For the first time this season Rice found out what a difference a couple of early goals can make. The Owls' Michigan tandem of Annie Walker and Jenny Fichera both scored in the first five minutes of the contest and went on to hold a comfortable 9-3 advantage in shots in the first half.
In only the third minute, junior Nia Stallings brought the ball down the left side and centered a pass to Walker flying down the middle of the field. Walker let loose an attempt near the 18 and found the back of the Tulsa net. Her first goal of the season put the Owls in front, but the Blue & Gray wasn't quite finished.
In the fifth minute, senior Jenny Fichera fielded a throw-in well out on the right wing. A defender by trade, Fichera dribbled-in and saw an opening. The veteran blasted the ball toward the Golden Hurricane net and in a flash the shot was past the keeper for a 2-0 Owl lead.
Rice continued to apply the offensive pressure with five more shots on-goal before the intermission and was more than just close a couple of times. Freshman Lianne Mananquill hit the crossbar in 22nd minute, but the team finally stretched the margin to three in the second stanza. This time as the Tulsa defense began to shift to Walker, she threaded a pass to Wolf close to the 18.
In the 54th minute Wolfe converted on her shot attempt for her team-leading third goal of the season. Tulsa would not go away so easily at home and in fact began to mount a rally with a pair of second half goals. The Rice defenders helped clear out a dangerous shot in the 66th minute for a team-save that went over the end line. The Golden Hurricane immediately answered on the ensuing a corner kick and then dramatic long-range shot for a goal in the 89th.
Rice was tested in the second half to be sure, but didn't break. Freshman goalkeeper Samantha Colley finished with six saves to secure the 3-2 final. The Owls are now 3-2-1 on the season. Tulsa is 3-4-1 overall.
The Owls have concluded the non-conference portion of its schedule, and next open league play on Sept. 18. Rice hosts defending Conference USA champion North Texas at Holloway Field in the team's only match next weekend. Start time against the Mean Green is scheduled for 7 pm.