Oct. 12, 2013
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Owl tandem of Gabriela Iribarne and Holly Hargreavesscored goals early in the first half to lift the visiting Rice soccer team to an eventual 3-0 Conference USA road win at Southern Miss Saturday afternoon at the USM Soccer Complex in Hattiesburg, Miss.
It did not take long for the Owls to get offensive. Rice quickly had four of the game's first five shots, and in just the 15th minute of the contest sophomore forward Lauren Hughes had the ball wide on left side looking to get the Blue & Gray on the scoreboard. As Hughes drew the full attention of the USM defenders she instead centered the ball back to Iribarne, who needed only a quick touch with her left foot to get a shot and a goal for a 1-0 Rice lead.
"One of the things we tell our forwards is 'if you can't score, then get the ball to someone who can,' and Lauren made a great, unselfish play to get the ball to Gabi for that first goal," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "That was big for us to get an early goal. We never looked back.
"We played pretty well all day," Adams added. "Today we did as good a job of executing out game plan as we've done all year."
The score was Iribarne's fourth of the season, tying her with Hargreaves and Hughes for most goals on the squad. Hargreaves, however, still had something to say about the Owls' goals-leaderboard.
A little more than three minutes later, Rice was awarded a penalty kick after a Southern Miss foul on Hargreaves as she was attempting to shoot from inside the box. Hargreaves stepped-up and converted the PK attempt for a 2-0 Rice advantage. The goal now gave her sole possession of the team lead (with five) and moved her into sixth place on Rice's career goals list with 16 dating back to her freshman season a year ago.
The Owls stretched the margin to 3-0 with the team's final goal of the day in the 84th minute. This time Iribarne was the catalyst, creating a combination play to junior midfielder Quinny Truong. Truong hit her lone shot attempt of the day for her third goal of season.
Rice finished with an 18-12 lead in shots and had more corner kicks, 6-5. Credit Rice goalkeeper Amy Czyzwith keeping the blank slate. The junior from California made a total of five saves, including a stop on a USM penalty kick in the 87th minute to preserve the team's fourth shutout of the season.
Rice improved to 5-5-2 overall and 3-2-0 in conference. Southern Miss is now 6-5-4 on the season and 0-3-2 against the league.
"We have good players," coach Adams said, "we've just needed everyone to play well in the same game. I am happy with how we played, staying focused and executing a game plan, but I think I'm even happier about how we came together today. We showed what we're capable of when we play for each other.
"Getting a conference road win is very important, especially if it's your only chance to play that week. We'll have two big games next week."
The rare Saturday match is the Owls' only action of the weekend. Rice next plays a critical C-USA match at home against league-leader Colorado College on Friday (Oct. 18). Start time at Rice's Holloway Field is set for 7 pm.