Oct. 16, 2011
HOUSTON - Rice freshman midfielder Lauren Busansky scored a pair of goals and had an assist to help lead the Rice soccer team to a 3-1 Conference USA victory over visiting Southern Miss Sunday afternoon at the Owls' Holloway Field in Houston.
Four Rice seniors were honored before the start of the contest for playing in their final home game, but it was the Owls' freshmen of Busansky, Quinney Truong and Gabriela Iribarne who stole the show by accounting for the three goals and three of the squad's four assists.
In only the second minute of the game Busansky, who was making her first college start, served a long pass in from the left sideline that found sophomore forward Jessica Howard at the Golden Eagles keeper's box. As the Owls' leading scorer, Howard had an answer for the USM defense that was already giving her their full attention. She quickly played the ball to Truong laterally with a touch, who then unleashed a hard shot from close range and found the back of the net on the right side. Two minutes in and the Owls were up 1-0 on Truong's second goal of the season.
The 1-0 advantage held for the remainder of the half and stood deep into the second stanza. In the 77th minute, Iribarne played a right corner kick that found Busansky in traffic at the USM net. Busansky took control and fired a shot past the Golden Eagle keeper for her first career goal on her first shot of the day.
The score gave the Owls some extra room on the scoreboard, but the Blue & Gray wasn't finished. Two minutes later Rice was on the attack again, with Truong playing wide to Busansky out on the wing. Busansky took the shot attempt from 10 yards away and scored her second career goal in as many minutes.
"It was a great day for our freshmen in the goal-scoring department, and all-around really," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "Our game plan was to get on the attack, and I don't know if I expected we'd get a goal as quick as we did today, but that was good to see that we were focused on what we wanted to do. To be ahead at 1:45 into the game we'll take it."
"After the goal our play dropped a little bit and we started making things a little more complicated than they needed to be," coach Adams explained. "Lauren (Busansky) is such a hard worker and she came-up big today. We needed some help in our midfield with Julia (Barrow) out today and she had a great week of practice. She jump-started our attack and her final (statistics) line today shows how hard she's been working.
Rice had stretched the margin to 3-0, but Southern Miss continued to play hard and rallied for a score in the 86th minute. Shelbi Moeller found teammate Mischa Tice at the keeper's box with a pass, who then scored her third goal of the season with a sliding shot to the right side.
It was the lone damage done in a 3-1 C-USA final. Rice finished the contest with a 20-13 lead in shots and a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks. The Owls improved to 9-5-2 overall and 4-3-1 in C-USA action. Southern Miss fell to 3-11-3 on the year and 0-7-1 against the league.
Coach Adams liked the freshmen, but she also had high praise for the four Owl seniors. It was the final home game for the veteran foursome of Marie Hunnell, Annie Kadota, Nikki Storness and Hope Ward.
"I was really happy to get a win today on senior day," coach Adams added. "They all played today and did well to calm us down when things got hectic. The one of things this senior class has done for sure is give us the leadership a team needs. They've really brought all the classes together and helped us have a good season, and it's not over yet."
Rice has closed out its home schedule and must next play each of its final three regular season games on the road. The Owls travel to East Carolina and Marshall for C-USA games on Oct. 21 & 23, respectively. Rice closes out the regular season with a game across town at the University of Houston on Oct. 28.