EL PASO --With perhaps its strongest showing of the season the Rice soccer team stormed to a convincing 3-0 Conference USA shutout road victory at UTEP Sunday afternoon in El Paso.
Rice jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half on the strength of a 13-4 advantage in shots and 5-0 margin in corner kicks. The Owls added one more insurance score in the second half for a 3-0 final. The Blue & Gray improved to 7-4-1 on the year with its third-straight win and is now 4-2-0 on C-USA action for a total of 12 points in the conference standings. UTEP dropped to 9-4-2 overall and 2-3-0 against the league.
In the 23rd minute, sophomore Marissa Topolski blasted away on a shot attempt that UTEP deflected away for a save. Junior Nia Stallings though alertly played the carom to the back of the Miner net for her third goal of the season to share the team lead.
The Owls added the second goal with time winding down in the first half. Sophomore Dominique Mazero settled a long pass with one touch, then quickly served to Topolski sprinting in from the right wing. The New Jersey native received the ball in stride and soon unleashed a hard shot that found the back left corner of the net.
Topolski's first career goal made it 2-0 but Rice still wasn't finished. In the 63rd minute junior Aliza Wolfe crossed a right-to-left pass into the box. With no margin for error Annie Walker one-timed a shot to the right corner of the UTEP net for her second goal of the season.
Almost lost in all the Owls' offensive fireworks was a complete game shutout from Rice freshman keeper Samantha Colley. The rookie net-minder finished the match with seven saves, including six in the second half.
The Owls have concluded this weekend's C-USA road swing, but the team isn't playing back at home just yet. Rice is back out on the road again next week to play at conference foe Middle Tennessee on Oct. 14 (Friday).