Oct. 14, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The trio of Lauren Hughes, Quinney Truong and Holly Hargreaves all scored goals to give the visiting Rice soccer team a 3-0 lead, but the Owls had to hold-off a late UAB rally over the game’s final 20 minutes to claim a 3-2 Conference victory over the Blazers Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala.
Rice not only held-on for the road win Sunday, the Owls also held-on to sole possession of first place in the C-USA standings. The Blue & Gray improved to 9-5-3 on the season and 6-1-1 in C-USA action for a total of 19 points (three points are earned per C-USA win and one point per tie). Rice has a three-point lead on Colorado College (16 points) after the conclusion of Sunday’s league games.
“We’re happy for the win today, and we’re still in first place,” said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. “We did a good job to work and create an early goal, and we kept it up to add another one later in the first half.
“We tell the players, ‘the teams in this conference are dangerous and play hard the full 90 minutes’,” coach Adams explained. “(The players) also have to understand that once you’re in first place, other teams will have even more desire to get a win. Credit to UAB for playing hard all the way. We wanted to win and we did, but this is a win where I hope we learned something.”
The Owls went right to work to get on the scoreboard. In the fourth minute, senior team captain Julia Barrow served a sharp cross from the right side that sliced across the front of the goal. Hughes darted in by the left post and headed the ball in diagonally to the back right side of the Blazer net. Hughes’ eight goal of the season gave her a share of the team lead in goals and the Owls a 1-0 advantage.
UAB attempted counter attacks that Owl keeper Amy Czyz was able to grab for saves. Rice doubled the margin to 2-0 midway through the half. In the 23rd minute, Truong lined up a free kick from well outside the 18 after a Blazer foul. Truong blasted the ball over a wall of UAB defenders and into the top left corner of the goal for her second score of the season.
Rice looked like it might turn the game into a run-away in the second half with a goal that stretched the margin to 3-0. In the 53rd minute, Hargreaves took control of the ball on the left wing deep in UAB territory. The rookie from New Hope, Pa., dribbled past a defender and took an attempt from 14-yards out that sailed past the keeper and into the goal.
Hargreaves re-gained the team lead in goals (from the tie with Hughes) thanks to her ninth of the year. With a little more than 20 minutes left in regulation Rice’s team-lead in goals seemed to be the only question left in the game, but UAB clearly had other ideas.
The Blazers continued to fight and added a goal in the in the 70th minute. Mary Catherine Combs found Johanna Liney with a pass in the Rice box. Liney headed-in a shot attempt to make the score 3-1. In the 83rd minute, Liney found Kirsten Ebert with a corner kick to make it 3-2. UAB seized some momentum, but the Blue & Gray didn’t allow another shot for the remainder of the game.
“We worked pretty hard to get where we are in the conference right now, and it’s fair to say we have a lot of work left,” said Barrow, a veteran who Sunday helped the Owls record the soccer program’s first win in Birmingham since joining the conference in 2005. “There’s a lot to play for. We’ll get refocused for more bog games coming up.”
The Owls closed out the weekend road swing and are back home for the next two C-USA matches. Rice hosts longtime conference rival UTEP on Friday (Oct. 19) at 7 pm. The Blue & Gray then hosts its final home game of the regular season on Oct. 21 with a league game against Colorado College. Five Owl seniors will be recognized before the 1 pm start.