Sept. 14, 2012
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HOUSTON - The Rice and Oklahoma soccer teams combined for almost 40 shots in 90 minutes of regulation and two additional overtime periods, but the Owls and Sooners finished in a 1-1 tie Friday night at the Rice Soccer Stadium in Houston.
Rice held a comfortable 11-3 lead in shots at the intermission, but neither team had been able to find the back of the net. As Oklahoma turned up the offensive pressure with a 12-5 shots advantage in the second half, it appeared as though the Owls might be caught in a familiar pattern the team had found the last couple of weeks - a pattern of not following-through with a sterling second half of soccer after playing so well through the first 45 minutes.
Rice head coach Nicky Adams challenged the Owls that playing a full-game against a talented Oklahoma team from a formidable soccer conference would be as good a place as any to break that old pattern, and maybe start a new one. On Friday Adams saw reason to conclude the Owls have taken a step the right direction.
"The past couple of games we had been going out and playing these phenomenal first halves of soccer, and then letting up in the second half," coach Adams said. "Oklahoma is a fantastic team in the Big 12 and tonight we found a way to fight for not just 90-minutes, but 90-plus minutes. The girls showed a lot of character, working as hard as they did to play a complete game."
In the second half Oklahoma was certainly on the offensive and getting more shots, but it was the Owls who were first to break the scoring drought. Owl sophomore midfielder Quinney Truong had a good look at the goal on her first shot attempt of the game in the first half, and saw her second attempt in the 57th minute saved by Oklahoma keeper Kelsey Devonshire. In the game's 69th minute, Rice freshman Holly Hargreaves found Truong in traffic with centering pass nine yards in front of the goal. Truong's final shot attempt, her third of the game in under 30 minutes, bounded off the left post. The Owls have had a host of shots hit off the framework the last four outings, but Truong's third try was the charm as the ball deflected diagonally into the goal and found the ride side netting. The score was Truong's first of the year and gave the Blue & Gray a 1-0 lead.
"Holly's starting to draw a crowd (defensively) because she's shown she can score, but she can pass really well too," Truong said. "I made a sprint up the middle and that ball she played to me was perfect. I hit it as hard and I didn't know I had scored. I saw it hit the post... then everyone starting cheering a second or two later."
Rice was looking to extend the lead with a running breakaway attempt to an empty Oklahoma net in the 77th minute, but the Owl shot after a collision went just wide to the left. Down but not out, OU tied the contest in the 81st minute. Sooner junior Annalisa Hall got the ball to the team's scoring leader Renae Cuellar ten yards out on the left wing. Cuellar's shot attempt found the back of the net for her sixth goal of the young season and a new 1-1 score.
The Owls had a total of six shot attempts in the two overtime periods, and finished with 22-17 lead in shots for the on the night. Oklahoma held a 6-5 margin in corner kicks. Neither team had overtime's game-winning goal, however, and the contest finished in a 1-1 draw. The Sooners moved to 4-3-2 on the season. Rice is now 2-4-2 overall. Coach Adams likes the team's direction as it approaches the halfway point of the schedule.
"I'm very proud of our effort," coach Adams said. "Quinney's goal was fantastic, and we had a lot of players play well and make a contribution. We showed that we're willing to work to change the rest of the season."
The Owls have completed their one home game of the weekend and next take to the road for a match on Sunday (Sept. 16). Rice meets longtime rival Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Tex., at 1 pm. Sunday's showdown with the Bearkats is the Owls' final non-conference clash of the regular season. Rice begins Conference USA league play on Sept. 21 with a home match against the University of Tulsa.