Oct. 30, 2009
HOUSTON -- On a night the Rice soccer program honored its eight seniors playing in their final home game, the Owl senior tandem of Erin Scott and Shelley Wong both scored goals to pace the Blue & Gray to a 2-1 Conference USA victory over crosstown rival Houston on Friday (Oct. 30).
Rice jumped on the scoreboard with an early goal, then added another first half score for a 2-0 advantage. In the ninth minute, junior Korey Taylor served a long pass down the left sideline and found Scott breaking free on a sprint. Scott cut from the sideline to the center of the field and hit a shot from inside the 18 back to the inside left netting. Not only was the goal her fourth of the season, it was the 22nd of her collegiate career to tie the Rice school record for goals set by Sarah Yoder back in 2004.
Scott also had an assist in the second goal of the night. In the 30th minute Rice senior Alexa Coralli had the ball in traffic in Houston's attacking third of the field and passed to Scott in front of the UH goal. Scott quickly drew a crowd of Cougar defenders and the senior from Richardson, Tex., immediately passed to Wong charging-in on the left wing. Wong blasted a shot attempt past the UH keeper to the far side of the net and found the back of the goal for a score.
"It was definitely a senior-goal," Wong explained, "a senior-goal all the way. Erin spotted me a great ball. We were all playing well. We were giving it our all and it was great to be out there."
It was the first time this season Owls scored two goals in the first half of a game. It was also Wong's first goal of the year, but it was a big one as Houston would not go away so easily in the annual rivalry game between the crosstown foes. The Cougars in fact turned-up the offensive pressure in the second half with 13 shots. In the 60th minute, Stephanie Derieg found Lauri Byrne with a pass, who then hit a shot attempt from inside the 18. Byrne's third goal of the season cut the lead to 2-1 and was the first time in more than 279-consecutive minutes the Rice defense had allowed a score.
The Owls surrendered one goal, but hung-on for the rest of the contest to claim the 2-1 win. Rice held a 9-8 advantage in shots-on-goal, but both teams had seven saves and the corner kicks were also dead-even (4-4). The close one-goal margin was on par for how the rivals have played in the series. All but two of the games since Houston and Rice met for the first time in 2001 have been decided by a single goal. The Owls extended its lead in the all-time series to 5-3-1.
The regular seasons for both teams have come to an end. Houston finished the season at 4-12-2 overall and 2-7-2 in Conference USA action. Rice improved to 6-10-3 on the year and 4-6-1 against the league. The Owls ended on a high note the last few weeks by finishing their last six games with a 4-1-1 record to close out 2009.
"I'm proud of our seniors and I'm proud of the whole team," said Rice head coach Chris Huston. "We may not have had the start to the season we wanted, but we kept playing hard all the way through to this last game. We had a strong finish with a winning note at the end in a game against UH that we new was going to be a battle. It's always a battle for these two no matter what."
The Rice seniors who made their final Rice appearance included Scott, Wong and Coralli, as well as forward Jessica Ross (Carlsbad, Calif.) and defenders Stephanie Crain (Austin, Tex.), Ashley Lucas (Dallas, Tex.) and Katelyn Ostendorf (Zionsville, Indiana). The Owls also re-introduced Kellen Schugart in the game's senior pregame ceremony. Schugart was part of the 2006 signing class who had started 46 games for the Owls before having her career cut-short by an injury.
"(The seniors) are an awesome group to have been a part of these four years," Scott said. "I wouldn't trade my experiences with them for anything. They played an amazing game tonight. It was a perfect game to end-on."
The game's boxscore is available at the above link.