Sept. 16, 2012Holly Hargreaves and Lauren Hughes both scored first half goals to help lift the Owls soccer team to a 2-0 victory over visiting Sam Houston State Sunday afternoon at the Rice Soccer Stadium in Houston.
The Rice offense quickly took control and jumped on the scoreboard in the tenth minute. Sophomore midfielder Quinney Truong served a corner kick into the Sam Houston keeper's box. The ball deflected off the Bearkats, but Hargreaves alertly contained the carom and punched-in a close-range shot that found the back of the net on the right side. Not only was the score Hargreaves' team-leading fourth goal of the season, it marked the Owls' fastest goal in a game this season.
The Blue & Gray went from fastest-goal in a game this season to the team's first multi-goal first half. In the 41st minute another one of the Owls' talented newcomers, freshman forward Becca Koval, brought the ball down inside the 18 on the right wing. As the Bearkat defenders collapsed on Koval, the California native centered the ball back inside to Hughes sprinting toward the goal. Hughes blasted away with a shot to score from 10-yards out. Her third goal of the season doubled the Rice margin to 2-0.
Originally the game was scheduled to be played at Sam Houston State's field in Huntsville, but weather ultimately forced a late change of venue and brought the game to Rice. Owl head coach Nicky Adams was glad to get the unexpected home game, but even happier to get the first half goals.
"The freshmen are finding a away, and that's important," coach Adams said. "I feel like we're creating a lot of chances (that helped lead to the early score). We just need to keep working at getting some more of those to turn into goals."
By the intermission Rice had built an 11-1 advantage in shots, and the teams then posted identical numbers in the second half on the way to a final shots margin of 22-2. The Owls matched the same number of shot attempts the team had taken two days before in the 1-1 tie against Big 12 power Oklahoma. Hargreaves led all players with four attempts. Twelve different Owls took attempts and a total of 22 players saw action in the game.
"It's pretty common to be a little tired in Sunday games," Adams explained. "Every single player on our roster played today and it's huge every time players can get as much experience as they can. I don't mind going to the bench. This is the deepest team we've had in Rice soccer history."
As offensive-minded as the Owls were in the attacking third of the field, the backline was just as unyielding on the defensive side. Neither of the Rice goalkeepers who played, Amy Czyz and Andie Obermeyer (in each half respectively), did not get credit for any saves. The Owls backline, which featured different rotations throughout the 90 minutes, allowed only two Bearkat attempts and logged the team's second shutout of the season. Senior defender Amy Beger had high marks for the backline.
"We had that tough, double-overtime game against Oklahoma on Friday and it's never fun to play on dead legs, but it's probably the most important time to try and play your best," Beger said. "I thought (the backline) had pretty decent day. Lauren (LaGro) and Hayley (Williams) were really strong and (freshman) Jasmine (Isokpunwu) has been amazing the way she has been able to step-in and play. We have freshmen scoring goals, and that is great, and `Jazz' has been right there playing just as well - only she's been on defense so people may not have noticed her as much."
The Owls have completed the non-conference portion of the regular season schedule. Rice next begins Conference USA league play on Sept. 21 with a home match against the University of Tulsa. Start time against the Golden Hurricane is set for 7 pm at the Rice Soccer Stadium.