Sept. 24, 2010
HOUSTON -- Korey Taylor scored a goal 21 seconds into the contest, Lauren LaGro added another late in the first half and keeper Meghan Erkel registered a shutout to help pace the Rice soccer team to a 2-0 Conference USA victory over Tulsa in the opening league match for both teams Friday evening at the Rice Soccer Stadium.
Rice exploded down the field on the opening whistle and junior forward Hope Ward took a long shot from deep on the right wing just a few moments into the game. The ball struck the right post and bounced back to Taylor from just inside the 18. Taylor charged-in and opportunistically blasted away on a follow-up shot that found the back of the net on the right side for an extremely quick 1-0 advantage. The goal was Taylor's second of the year and the 11th of her Rice career moving her into eighth place on the school's all-time goals list. Ward was inches from a goal on her shot attempt, but notched her team-leading fourth assist on the play. The standout from Kingwood, Tex., moved into fourth on Rice's list for career assists.
"That was an unbelievable effort to start the game," said Rice interim head coach Nicky Adams. "We put a lot of pressure on them in the box, and maintained that for most of the game. One of the things we talked about was our urgency in the box. We want to attack at speed, then have the urgency to get those runs. That happened right away tonight. Hope took a quick shot, in fact almost a great shot that nearly went in, but everybody else is still framing the goal. Korey was right there and put it in on her first touch. It was big to get the lead and get it as quick as we did. I'm proud the girls played hard and played with confidence."
The Owls continued to control the tempo and out-shot Tulsa 11-5 in the first half. The Blue & Gray stretched the score to 2-0 in the 43rd minute when awarded a penalty kick after a Tulsa foul inside the 18. LaGro converted on the attempt for her first goal of her collegiate career.
Tulsa would not go away so easy and proceeded to take nine more shots second half. Rice was up to the challenge as the rivals battled to a scoreless draw for the final 45 minutes. In claiming the 2-0 victory it was the first time in the ten-game Rice-Tulsa series history where the deciding margin for either team was more than a single goal. Erkel finished the night with a season-best seven saves, and she had help on defense from LaGro, Alexandra Trenary, Hayley Williams and Amy Beger for the Owls' first shutout of the season.
"It's amazing the way our back line has come together," Erkel said. "I don't think anyone who saw the game tonight would think this is the first season that those four defenders have been playing together, and it's not even close to a season for them. They haven't played ten games together yet and we can all see them getting better and better. That's exciting because this was only the first conference game."
Offensively Rice finished with a 21-14 lead in shots, but the Golden Hurricane held a 7-2 edge in corner kicks. The Owls moved to 4-5-0 on the season and 1-0-0 to grab a share of first place in the early conference standings. The Golden Hurricane are now 4-5-0 overall and 0-1-0 in the league.
The Owls are only one-half the way through the opening weekend of C-USA action. Rice next hosts longtime foe SMU in a league match on Sunday (Sept. 26) at 1 pm.
The game's box score is provided at the above link.