Sept. 12, 2010
NORMAN, Okla. -- The Rice soccer team saw its two-game win-streak come to an end with a 1-0 loss to Big 12 foe Oklahoma Sunday afternoon on the road in Norman, Okla.
The two teams battled for a scoreless first half, but Sooner forward Whitney Palmer scored her third goal of the season in the game's 62nd minute to provide the narrow margin. Rice fell to 3-4-0 on the season while the Sooners improved to 3-2-1.
Oklahoma finished the game with a 19-13 lead in shots, but Rice out-shot the Sooners in the second half 11-10 and the corner kicks were an even 2-2. Senior keeper Catherine Fitzsimmons responded to her second-straight start in goal with a career-high nine saves, the most by an Owl this season. Oklahoma was on the attack early and Fitzsimmons nearly tied her previous career-high of five saves by the intermission. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native worked the entire 90 minutes for the fourth time in her career.
For the first time in more than three years the Owls were without the services of standout midfielder Kate Edwards, who had to be assisted off the field early in Friday night's 2-1 victory over UTSA. The Owls' senior from Westlake Village, Calif., went down in the seventh minute Friday after a collision near the sideline at midfield. Prior to Sunday Edwards had started every game in her Rice career, a total of 65-straight dating back to her freshman season of 2007 for the eighth-highest total in school history. Edwards is the team's active leader in career goals with 19 (4th all-time), third in career shots (158), and tied for sixth with five in game-winning goals.
With the starting lineup slightly altered Rice was led offensively by redshirt sophomore Amy Beger and freshman Jessica Howard, who shared the team lead with three shots each. Only two days before the duo was part of an Owl lineup that peppered UTSA with 33 shots, the seventh-highest single game total in history. Rice head coach Chris Huston was, despite the one defensive sequence that led to the goal, more pleased with the team's play in the second half. Huston also said having Edwards available Sunday could have added to some solid individual performances.
"We came out kind of flat in the first half and kind of got by 0-0 without playing so well," Huston said. "We made some adjustments in the second half and then played a lot better, and that is encouraging. We had one mental lapse defensively in the second half, and Oklahoma is talented and athletic enough to turn it into a goal. That was enough to decide the game. We could have helped ourselves with a better first half, and a complete effort for 90 minutes.
"We didn't have Kate for a game for the first time in a long time," Huston added. "When you don't have an experienced player like that who's also a team captain, it's a major adjustment, no question. "Jordan Holloway stepped-in in the midfield and did a nice job. She won the ball on challenges and in the air. `Cat' came up with some big saves today and played well. She's done well (while starting back-to-back games for the first time in her career this weekend)."
After playing three of its last four games on the road, Rice next begins a lengthy five-game homestand that lasts into October. The team may be changing to a more home-heavy part of the schedule, but the rugged degree of difficulty is holding fast. The Owls host nationally-ranked BYU on Saturday (Sept. 18) to close out the non-conference schedule. The match is slated to begin at 7 pm at the Rice Soccer Stadium. The Blue & Gray begins Conference USA league play the following weekend starting with a 7 pm match against longtime rival Tulsa on Sept. 24.