Aug. 7, 2012
IRVING, Tex. - Rice's Jessica Howard, Lauren LaGro and Quinney Truong have all been named to the 2012 Conference USA Preseason Soccer team, the most honorees from any school on this year's all-preseason squad, the C-USA league office announced on Tuesday (Aug. 7).
All the preseason honorees were selected on a vote of the 12 C-USA head coaches. Rice led the way in the number of preseason selections while Colorado College and UCF both had two players named to the 11-member team. Having three honorees tied for the most in the history of the Rice soccer program. The Owls also had three players earn preseason accolades in the back-to-back years of 2003 and 2004 when the University was a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
"It is an honor to be considered one of the top players in a conference because with their vote the coaches are showing their respect for the best players," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "I strongly believe C-USA is one of the best conferences in the nation, and there are tremendous players in this conference. The 11 players selected are completely worthy of the recognition, and it is exciting to have three Rice players named to this team. We feel that we have created a lot of depth and we are looking for these three players to step up and help create a competitive consistent environment amongst our team."
The Owl trio of Howard, LaGro and Truong are all coming off all-conference caliber seasons from a year ago. Howard was a first team C-USA selection who led Rice in goals (8), game-winning goals (4), points (19), shots (57) and shots-on-goal (24). The Dallas, Tex., native was versatile enough to start at both forward and in the midfield and posted the fourth-highest single-season goal total in school history.
LaGro was a second team all-conference defender who led the team in minutes played. The senior from Dallas anchored a Rice backline that allowed just 11.4 shots per game, one of the best totals in the league and the lowest by an Owl defense in four years.
Truong played her way into third team all-conference honors as a true freshman last season. Not only did the midfielder from Fort Worth, Tex., tie for third on the team in goals (2) and points (7), she started 20 matches and played 90 or more minutes nine times.
"All three players are so well-rounded," Adams said. "Lauren has been the staple to our backline the last three years. She is a strong smart player and is an incredible leader. Jessica has an attacking presence and the league knows that she is a goal-scorer. Quinney is one of the best technically and tactically in the conference. The three players selected for Rice completely deserve it. We are very excited to kick off the 2012 season."
A year ago the Owls finished 10-7-4 overall and tied for sixth place in the C-USA standings. The Blue & Gray won its opening-round game in the C-USA Tournament and tied UTEP, 0-0, in the semifinal round. The C-USA head coaches picked Rice fifth in 2012 preseason poll.
All Rice fans are invited to the soccer program's Blue-Gray scrimmage set for August 11 (Saturday) at 7 pm. The Owls officially open the 2012 season at home on Aug. 17 against national power Baylor at 7 pm.
2012 PRESEASON WOMEN'S SOCCER ALL-CONFERENCE USA TEAM
Jessie Ayers, So., MF, Colorado College (Seattle, Wash.)
Brittney Lyman, Sr., F, Colorado College (Arvada, Colo.)
Christabel Oduro, Jr., MF/F, Memphis (Brampton, Ontario) - PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jessica Howard, Jr., MF/F, Rice (Dallas, Texas)
Lauren LaGro, Sr., D, Rice (Dallas, Texas)
Quinney Truong, So., MF/F, Rice (Fort Worth, Texas)
Mallory Baum, Sr., MF, SMU (Keller, Texas)
Claire Hulcer, Sr., D, Tulsa (St. Louis, Mo.)
Marissa Diggs, Jr., D, UCF (Rowlett, Texas) - PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tishia Jewell, Sr., F, UCF (Satellite Beach, Fla.)
Azia Nicholson, Jr., D/MF, UTEP (Grand Prairie, Texas)
2012 C-USA PRESEASON POLL
(as selected by C-USA coaches)
3. Colorado College
7. East Carolina
12. Southern Miss