March 15, 2012
With all the team and individual honors and awards the Rice soccer program amassed over the course of last season, it was only fitting that the team's recent Spring Awards Banquet resembled a Hollywood-style star-studded event.
The host of Owl honorees garnered awards for the 2011 season from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Conference USA, the Rice Academic Advising Office, and the program's own distinctive list of annual individual awards. Senior Hope Ward was named the Owls' 2011 Player of the Year after starting all 21 games, leading the team in assists (5) and finishing second in shots (48). The standout from Kingwood closed out her collegiate career making 74 career starts, playing more than 6,100 career minutes and registering 21 total assists.
Ward and her Owl teammates were all greeted by fans, family and Rice staff members, and in keeping with the banquet's Hollywood theme, a paparazzi of photographers. Rice head coach Nicky Adams said the event was perfect match for the reviews the program received all season long.
"This was a very special evening for everyone involved in the Rice soccer program," coach Adams said. "This banquet allowed us to look back on what a fabulous year the program had and gave us the opportunity to celebrate all of the accomplishments and success of our players both athletically and academically. It was also a time for us a to honor the four seniors (Hope Ward, Annie Kadota, Nikki Storness & Marie Hunnell) that have put so much into the program."
Under the direction of head coach Adams Rice went 10-7-4 to record the program's most wins in a single season in three years. The Owls reached the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament for the first time since 2007, only to be edged in a PK shootout. The young squad was paced by just four seniors on the roster. Five of the Owls' regular starting 11 were either freshmen or sophomores.
Rice team awards (full listing below) were determined by a player vote, but there was also special recognition for team's outgoing seniors. The team's 2012 team captains were announced with Julia Barrow and Lauren LaGro accepting that honor and responsibility.
2011 Team Awards
Player of the Year - Hope Ward
Offensive MVP - Jessica Howard
Defensive MVP - Lauren LaGro
Midfielder of the Year - Julia Barrow
Rookie of the Year - Amy Czyz
Most Improved - Ashton Geisendorff
Warrior Award (the Owl who plays with the most heart and desire in both practices and games) - Hope Ward
Who's Hoo (the player who sparks the team or make the most immediate impact when entering the game off the bench) - Lauren Busansky
Iron Owl (presented by the Rice Strength & Conditioning staff to the team's top performer in the weight room) - Hope Ward
Conference USA Awards
C-USA All Conference 1st Team- Jessica Howard
C-USA All Conference 2nd Team- Lauren LaGro
C-USA All Conference 3rd Team- Quinney Truong, Amy Czyz
C-USA All Freshman Team- Quinney Truong, Amy Czyz
C-USA All-Tournament Team- Lauren LaGro, Ashton Geisendorff
Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 5) - Jessica Howard
Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 3) - Amy Czyz
C-USA All-Academic Team- Julia Barrow & Lauren LaGro
NSCAA All Central Region - Jessica Howard
NSCAA Team Academic Award for 2011
NSCAA Scholar All Region - Lauren LaGro (student-athlete must have at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale throughout career, start more than 50 percent of all games and be a significant contributor to the team, be nominated by an institution that is a current NSCAA College Services member, be a junior or above in academic standing at the current institution and be in second year at the current school if a transfer student)