CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The senior duo of Holly Hargreaves and Lauren Hughes both scored goals to rally the Rice soccer team to a 2-1 come-from-behind Conference USA road victory at the University of Charlotte Sunday afternoon in North Carolina.
Rice controlled the tempo early in the contest, but Charlotte struck first on the scoreboard working against the game flow. In the 14th minute, Katie O'Neill made a run up the left side before centering to Megan McCallister inside the 18. McCallister quickly converted on a shot that found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season and a 1-0 49er lead.
The Owls regrouped quickly to find the equalizer in the 17th minute. Sophomore Nia Stallings collected a bounding ball in the keeper's box and played back to Hargreaves, still in close range. Hargreaves blasted away on a shot in front of the goal that beat the keeper on the right side.
Hargreaves' second score of the season made it 1-1, but the Blue & Gray was looking for more. In the 29th minute the New Hope, Pa., native had the ball with space outside the 18, but was brought down on a challenge from behind. Hughes took the ensuing free kick from 25-yards and launched a hard left-to-right shot that found the side netting for a 2-1 Rice lead.
Rice well knows that since their freshman year of 2012, Hargreaves and Hughes scoring in the same game has proved to be a good omen for the final outcome. Charlotte would not go away so easily at home, however, and had a tremendous chance to tie on a counter attack early in the second half. In the 49th minute, Rice keeper Zoe Pochobradsky made a diving save of Martha Thomas' shot but the ball was still free in the area. Thomas recovered first and made a second shot attempt on goal.
With her keeper still down, Owl Jessica Johnston alertly stepped to the goal line and headed the shot attempt out of danger. The day also happened to be Johnston's 20th birthday, but it was Rice who gladly accepted the heads-up gift from the sophomore defender.
The Owls had a chance to extend the margin to 3-1, but Samantha Chaiken's shot hit the crossbar. The Blue & Gray went on to hold a 20-16 lead in shots and a 11-6 advantage in corner kicks on the way to a 2-1 final.
Rice improved to 8-5-1 on the season and 4-2-0 in C-USA league play. Charlotte dropped to 5-9-0 overall and 1-4-0 in conference. The Owls certainly like the H&H scoring punch. When Hargreaves and Hughes both score in the same game, the Owls are now 14-0-1.