Nov. 4, 2011
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - For the second time in as many years the Rice soccer team has been eliminated at the Conference USA Championship in a PK-shootout. After Friday's semifinal game remained in a 0-0 deadlock at the end of 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods, longtime state rival UTEP advances to Sunday's Championship Final by winning the most-of-five shootout, 3-1.
The game officially enters the ledgers as a 0-0 tie. The shootout is only used to determine which team advances. Rice is now 10-7-4 on the season. UTEP moved to 11-7-4 overall.
The Miners built a 7-3 lead in shots in the first half, but Rice rebounded to control the tempo in the second half with an 8-2 advantage in shots. The Owls continued the momentum into the overtime frames and held a combined 5-2 margin in shots taken. Both starting goalkeepers were up to the challenge, and after 110 full minutes of play the game went to a shootout of penalty kicks.
As she did a year ago in the Owls' C-USA postseason shootout against SMU, Rice junior all-conference honoree Lauren LaGro converted on her PK attempt. It was however the Owls' only make of the series as UTEP keeper Sarah Dilling came up some critical stops. Rice's Amy Czyz made a one save in the shootout, but the Miners clinched it after four PK rounds, 3-1. UTEP next meets the winner of Friday's (late) Memphis-East Carolina game.
"I thought we played a hell of a game," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "We had about six opportunities that fell right on the goal line, and if you don't finish those, it's a sad way to end in PKs.
"I'm happy with our girls," coach Adams added. "We had a really young team, and we got to experience a little bit of everything. We had a lot of success, being ranked as high as 24th in the RPI (on Oct. 5), and learned a lot about ourselves. I'm gonna be honest, that four-and-seven, home-and-away (in the C-USA regular season) schedule is tough. Our girls battled, and I'm really proud of the effort they gave today. This is a hard way to lose, but it does not say anything about how we played that game."
Eight different Owls finished the second overtime taking at least one shot for a final team total of 16. Freshman Ashton Geisendorff, who scored the dramatic game-winning goal in double-overtime two days earlier against No. 3 seed SMU, led the team with a career-high four shots. The Blue & Gray held a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Under the direction of Nicky Adams, who was officially named the head coach on Nov. 15, 2010, the Owls won their most games in a single season in three years. The team reached the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2007. The young squad was paced by just four seniors on the roster. Five of the regular starting 11 were either freshmen or sophomores.
The game's box score appears at the above links.