Sept. 30, 2012
Rice was 4-0-1 in its last five matches, including three-straight C-USA wins, to hold a share of first place in the league standings. The nationally-ranked Knights successfully defended their home field Sunday and now UCF, Rice and East Carolina are all tied for second in the C-USA standings with identical 3-1-0 conference records.
UCF controlled the offensive tempo but the match was deadlocked 0-0 on the scoreboard for the first two-thirds of contest. In the game's 68th minute UCF tallied the lone goal of the day shortly after a free kick following a Rice foul.
The Owls were able to clear the initial free kick, but Knight freshman midfielder Sophie Howard gained control of the ball in front of the Rice goal. Howard scored an unassisted goal, and the first of her collegiate career, on her second shot attempt of the day. With a 20-2 advantage in shots and 4-2 lead in corner kicks, the narrow 1-0 lead on the scoreboard proved to be all the scoring the Knights would need.
"UCF is ranked No 10 for a reason," said Rice head Coach Nicky Adams. "They are a very mature, disciplined, hard-working team and they did a really good job of attacking. We put ourselves in a situation where we had to defend the entire game and we could not get a rhythm going-forward. Our backline did as much as they could trying to keep their forwards in front of them."
Owl sophomore goalkeeper Amy Czyz finished the day with seven saves. The save total was Czyz' highest in three weeks dating back to a match on the road at nationally-ranked Oklahoma State.
Rice is now 6-5-2 on the year while UCF improved to 9-2-1 overall. The Owls finished the two-game road swing and return home to host a pair of C-USA matches next weekend. Coach Adams knows there is a lot of college soccer still left to play.
"It was a tough way to end a weekend, but it will be good to play back at home," coach Adams said. "The only thing is we have another tough two opponents coming up in Marshall and ECU. Last year we went 0-2 in games at their place. We'll have a lot of work ahead of us this week, and we'll go back to the basics to play at a level we know we're capable of playing."
Rice continues C-USA action with match against Marshall on Friday (Oct. 5) at 7 pm. The Blue & Gray then hosts East Carolina on Oct. 7 in a 1 pm conference contest.