Sept. 30, 2011
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DALLAS - Rice true freshman Quinney Truong made her first career goal a memorable one by scoring in the 84th minute on the road against longtime rival SMU and lifting the Owls' soccer team to a 1-0 Conference USA victory over the Mustangs Friday night at Westcott Field in Dallas.
Faced with a grueling stretch of four-straight C-USA road games, and after a hard-fought narrow 1-0 loss at home to No. 9 ranked Memphis last Sunday, the Owls rallied for a key league win against a state-rival. Not only did SMU enter Friday's match owning a share of first place in the C-USA standings after a victory over No. 19 ranked UCF, the Mustangs had enjoyed a 9-3-1 advantage over Rice in the all-time soccer series between the teams.
Rice head coach Nicky Adams said that where the Owls' first half performance was not their best, a 0-0 deadlock on the scoreboard meant the chance for an upset was still well within reach. Adams saw that her young squad had a high-energy level for the big game - but the team was overdoing the energy a little too much. Mix-in that six of Rice's starters are from the Metroplex area and the over-excitement was not limited to the Owl rookies. The squad's ability to make some halftime adjustments in the offensive tempo, however, proved to be just enough to get out in front by the end of the second half.
"It was young players in a big game, and we were playing a little too excited this time," coach Adams explained. "Up front we struggled a little in the first half in trying to hold the ball. It was just a matter of slowing down a little and giving our midfielders a chance to help out. Once we did that we did much better in the second half. The girls are really very smart and they did a good job of making the adjustments we needed to make. That's very encouraging for such a young team, that they'll adjust to get the job done."
The Owl freshmen were excited. The Rice players from the Metroplex area were excited. It's understandable the high-energy would cross-currents at Quinney Truong, a rookie from Fort Worth in her first season at the Division I level.
Still scoreless in the game's 84th minute, Rice freshman forward Gabriela Iribarne got the ball on a counter attack. Iribarne and Truong worked together on a two-on-one break deep in Mustang territory and when the defense finally committed to stopping the player with the ball, Iribarne slotted a pass to Truong at the middle of the goal. Truong needed only a touch before hammering-home a shot to the back of the net on the right side.
Truong's first career goal put the Owls in front 1-0. She was also in line to record her first game-winning goal, the 14th player in Rice soccer history to have their first goal also be a game-winning goal, but there was still the little matter of six minutes left to play before the final whistle.
"That was a long six minutes," coach Adams said. "SMU did not quit and we knew they wouldn't. They threw numbers forward and we had to battle those last six minutes like we've never had to battle before. They had a free kick and then a corner kick right at the very end. It went down to the end.
"I thought defensively our backs were a solid to get another shutout," she said. "(Freshman goalkeeper) Amy Czyz was phenomenal tonight. She made three big saves that any one of them could have been game-changers. We had a nice Rice crowd up here with some of our Dallas-area families, so that was big.
"Conference USA is a powerhouse conference where every team is very good," Adams added. "To go in to SMU and upset them on their home field is a huge win for us. Both teams played hard and I was very, very happy with the goal we scored. Quinney has been due for a goal, and for her to score it up here was very nice."
Rice improved to 7-3-1 on the season and 2-1-0 in C-USA league play. SMU moved to 6-5-0 overall and lost in conference for the first time, 2-1-0. The Owls finish the C-USA road swing at Tulsa on Sunday. Start time with Golden Hurricane is set for 1:05 pm.
The game's box score appears at the above link.