Oct. 14, 2011
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HOUSTON - The No. 23 ranked UCF soccer team scored the lone goal of the game in the 71st minute to lift the visiting Knight past Rice 1-0 Friday evening at the Owls' Holloway Field in Houston.
UCF tallied double-digit first half shots, but the Owls' defense was up to the challenge to force a 0-0 score at the intermission. Rice out-shot the Knights 7-4 in the second stanza, but one score proved to be the difference. In the 71st minute UCF junior midfielder Anna Rodrigues took advantage of an Owl miscue on the back line that forced Rice to make a decision. When the Owls committed to try stopping Rodrigues, she played the ball to teammate Tishia Jewell in front of the goal on the left side. Jewell punched a close-range shot to the back of the Rice net for the difference-making goal.
"We had a breakdown in the back that ultimately led to the goal, and you can't give a ranked team chances like that," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "This is an unfortunate result but we need to be confident in the way we are playing. We did a lot of good things tonight and there was a lot we can keep building-on.
"It was a hard-fought match by both teams," coach Adams added. "UCF is ranked for a reason. They have tremendous ball-winners and tremendous athletes on their team that put us under a lot of pressure in the back."
Rice sophomore Jessica Howard started at forward and led all player with six shots, including two on-goal that were corralled for saves by UCF. She was joined by true freshman Quinney Truong in the attacking third Friday night and coach Adams liked the innovative combination.
"Jessica and Quinney are hard-workers," coach Adams explained. "They are so technical on the ball. They give us so much off the dribble or with a pass. I thought our forwards did a really good job of holding the ball for us. It allowed the midfielders to get up into the attack. (Senior midfielder) Hope Ward gave it her all tonight. She was able to create a lot on our attack off the dribble. We're going to just keep working on that final-third consistency in front of the goal."
The Owls are now 8-5-2 overall and 3-3-1 in C-USA. UCF improved to 9-2-4 on the season and 4-1-2 in conference.
It had been three weeks since Rice's previous home game (Sept. 25 vs. Memphis), and as it turned out both were against nationally-ranked teams. The Owls played well in each of the contests, but both finished in 1-0 defeats that were as close in resemblance as they were narrow in the final margin.
Now the Blue & Gray plays its final home game of the regular season against C-USA foe Southern Miss on Sunday (Oct. 16). The 1 pm contest is the last home soccer game for four Rice seniors. Coach Adams' intent was crystal clear.
"We're playing a hungry team Sunday that wants to get a road win," Adams added. "I want us to bring our best game."
Friday's box score appears at the above link.