MIAMI, Fla. -- The Rice soccer team held a 21-10 advantage in shots and 4-1 margin in corner kicks, but Middle Tennessee slipped away with a 1-0 win over the Owls in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament Wednesday afternoon in Miami, Fla.
With a loss in the single-elimination tournament, Rice's soccer 2015 season has come to an end with a final record of 10-7-2. The defeat was the Owls' first in the league tournament in two years after sweeping through the event in 2014.
Rice had controlled the ball and game-tempo for most of the first half, but had nothing to show for the effort on the scoreboard. Middle Tennessee goalkeeper Kelsey Brouwer, the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, had come up with four saves.
The contest began to look like it could be a near-replay from the same teams' meeting just two weeks before in Houston. In that Oct. 18 game Brouwer posted an eye-opening 13 saves as the foes went on to finish deadlocked in a 0-0 double-overtime tie.
Wednesday the déjà vu began to change.
Rice starting defender Gabby Martinez left the game late in the first half after a hard tackle and never returned to the match. In the second half the heat and humidity of Miami was a factor, forcing the Owls to go even further into the bench to put together a new-look defensive backline in the all-or-nothing elimination game.
In the game's 78th minute, Middle Tennessee's Grace Summers dribbled from the right wing toward the center. While outside the top of the 18, Summers knocked her only shot of the day high into the left corner of Rice goal for the 1-0 lead.
Summers' third goal of the season proved to be the only score in the match, and for that matter the only difference between the two teams in a full 200-minutes of soccer when including the double-overtime draw. Rice continued to fight, and put together five shots over the final 11 minutes. One was high, one was wide, and three were saved by Brouwer, who finished the day with nine saves overall.