Sept. 25, 2011
HOUSTON - The No. 9 ranked Memphis soccer team scored the lone goal of the game midway through the second half and seven goalkeeper saves helped the Tigers slip past Rice 1-0 Sunday afternoon at the Owls' Holloway Field in Houston.
Rice's five-game home win streak came to an end while Memphis, who elevated into the national Top 10 with a win streak of their own, remained undefeated at 10-0-0. The Tigers challenged Rice early with 12 first half shots and a 7-1 ratio in corner kicks, but the Owls hung-tough to keep the league's top-offensive team off the scoreboard. The match was in fact deadlocked, 0-0, for the first two-thirds of the contest when the Tigers notched the lone goal of the game.
In the 66th minute Memphis forward Melissa Smith dribbled in to Rice territory and as the Owl defense corralled the threat, Smith passed the ball to teammate Christabel Oduro 10-yards in front of the Rice goal. Oduro punched a shot from close range and found the back of the Owl net on the left-hand side. It was the only blemish the Owls had allowed on the day and the first goal Rice had surrendered in a week after posting a complete-game shutout against visiting C-USA foe UAB two days before.
Memphis goalkeeper Elise Kuhar-Pitters made the 1-0 margin stand-up with seven saves. The Tigers finished with a 16-8 lead in shots, but seven of the Owls' eight attempts were on-frame and Rice head coach Nicky Adams knows that anything less than seven UM saves makes for a whole new ballgame.
"Memphis is the best team we've seen so far this year, and No. 9 for a reason," coach Adams said. "They are so disciplined on both sides of the ball. They were able to disrupt what we've been able to do this season, so credit to them.
"I am little disappointed with our technical abilities today," coach Adams added. "We broke ourselves down a lot so that was non-Rice-like, and we certainly can't have that when playing a ranked team. I think a lot of it was simply our body position so that when we'd get our first touch. We'd be too busy recovering, rather than being ready with the ball to make the next play. Memphis can pounce on play like that. We'll work on that, and work on bouncing-back."
Rice was led offensively by freshman Quinney Truong. The rookie forward from Fort Worth shared the game's lead with four shots, all of which were on-goal. Truong moved from the midfield to forward for the start of C-USA play and has responded to the new role with nine shots in the last two games. On the defensive side, the Rice backline crew of Lauren LaGro, Hayley Williams, Rachel Petmecky, Alexandra Trenary and Amy Beger answered Sunday's test of facing the top-scoring team in the league.
Beger was one of six Owls to play all 90 minutes in a game where the midday temperatures climbed into high 90s. The day's final result was not what Beger, a preseason all-conference honoree, had hoped to reach, but the redshirt junior from Missouri saw a silver lining.
"Not the result we wanted and we're not very happy, but that's kind of good sign about our team's confidence," Beger explained. "We thought we could win against a Top 10 team. We gave it our all and we were right-there for most of the game. A loss is not good, but you have to learn from it. I think we're a team that can do that. Coach told us if we keep working we could give ourselves a chance to face them again (at the C-USA Tournament to be held in Memphis in November). That's what we wanted to hear."
The Owls are now 6-3-1 overall and 1-1-0 in C-USA. Memphis improved to 10-0-0 on the season and 2-0-0 in conference. Each of Rice's next four games are on the road against C-USA foes. The Owls face longtime rival SMU on Sept. 30 in Dallas, followed by a match at the University of Tulsa on Oct. 2.