Aug. 11, 2012
HOUSTON - Lightning strikes in the area may have delayed the start of the Rice soccer program's preseason Blue-Gray scrimmage, but it didn't appear there was anything that could stop the whirlwind of shots and goals both teams posted in a rapid-paced exhibition Friday night at the Owls' soccer stadium.
On paper the Blue squad rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win 7-5. Of greater importance is that unlike the Rice squad from a year ago the scrimmage showed the 2012 Owls play fast, forward, and together. Head coach Nicky Adams split the squad into two evenly-paired teams of eight. Not only did the Blue & Gray teams proceed to combine for 12 goals on 58 shots, the offensive surge was in just 60 total minutes of action (divided into two 30-minute halves), and not the normal 90-minute game.
"Obviously after going through two weeks of two-a-days it's exciting just to come out here and put it all together," coach Adams said. "It ended-up being a pretty even game. Overall I thought our speed of play was really good. The intensity, even though we were just playing against each other, was outstanding. It shows how much every player on this team cares about the outcome."
For coach Adams the good news got better as it was the team's seven new freshmen players who stepped-in to provide the offensive fireworks. Owl rookies Holly Hargreaves, Lauren Hughes, Jasmine Isokpunwu, Becca Koval and Danielle Spriggs combined for nine of the game's 12 goals and no less than 37 shots. With an eye on the August 17 (Friday) season-opener at home against national power Baylor, coach Adams held a few of the starters completely out of the scrimmage. Friday's exhibition showed Rice is not lacking for a starting 11 or in team depth.
"It's nice to see goals being scored, and it's always nice to see newcomers getting on the end of it," the head coach explained. "We sat some players out based on some little nagging injuries. They will be good to go next week, but we thought it was for the best to keep them out tonight. That ended up giving the newcomers a lot more minutes, so they got some more experience which was perfect.
"I think we have a good idea of a starting 11, but I think this will be the deepest team we've ever had at Rice University," she added. "There are more than 11 players who showed they could have earned a starting position. It's exciting to realize the type of player we're going to have come off the bench."