THIS WEEK: The Rice soccer team hosts its 2016 home-opener this Friday (Aug. 26) against crosstown foe Houston Baptist. Start time is slated for 7 pm at the newly remodeled Holloway Field on the Rice campus. The non-conference clash is the only weekend match for the Owls.
Rice Track/Soccer Stadium
Owls Shut Out HBU 2-0
The Rice soccer team used pair of second half goals to claim a 2-0 win over crosstown foe Houston Baptist Tuesday night at the Rice Soccer Stadium.
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2016 Rice soccer team (0-1-0) returns seven of 11 starters from last season's squad that went 10-7-2 and advanced the C-USA Tournament. The Owls return a total of 20 letterwinners from a year ago and welcome in a talented new recruiting class.
COACH'S CORNER: Rice soccer is under the direction of head coach Nicky Adams, who is now in her sixth full year at the helm of the program. Adams enters the season with a career record of 57-38-19. A former pro player and All-America honoree while playing at Texas A&M, Adams was inducted into her alma mater's Athletics Hall of Fame last fall. Adams' coaching staff includes Courtney Sirmans in her second year with the program, and Brenton Saylor in his first year with the Owls.
PRESEASON HONORS: IRVING, Texas - Led by senior Jasmine Isokpunwu as a preseason co-defensive Conference USA player of the year, and with a league-high three preseason selections overall, the Rice soccer team was picked second in the 2016 C-USA head coaches' poll announced on Aug. 2. Owls Jenny Fichera and Samantha Chaiken joined Isokpunwu on the 2016 preseason all-conference team. The preseason all-conference honors and ranking were determined on a vote of the 14 C-USA head soccer coaches. It is the third time in the last four years for Rice to be picked as high as second by the annual poll. Defending regular season and tournament champion North Texas was picked first in the poll, while Florida Atlantic was third and Marshall fourth. The Owls had the most individual preseason honorees (3) among the C-USA schools. A year ago Isokpunwu earned third team all-Central Region honors after starting every game for the Owls on defense. The Austin, Texas, native rarely came off the field for a team-high total of 1,754 minutes, or 98.7 percent of the of the team's total playing time. Fellow senior defender Jenny Fichera was second on the team in total minutes (1,732), and the backline duo helped Rice finished fourth in the conference for the fewest shots-allowed per game (12.2). Junior midfielder Samantha Chaiken battled through some nagging injuries last season to score a pair of game-winning goals while maintaining a steady .417 shots-on-goal percentage.
LAST WEEK: The Owls had only one game last weekend after the initially scheduled season-opener at SMU on August 19 was cancelled due to weather. With the SMU match washed-away, the Blue & Gray officially opened the season at No. 8 ranked Texas A&M in College Station on Sunday (Aug. 21). Rice jumped out to an 1-0 lead on the Aggies on the strength of the first career goal of Aliza Wolfe in the 21st minute. A&M tied the match just before the half and took a 2-1 lead midway through the second stanza on a hometown penalty kick. The match was stable at 2-1 for a long time before the Aggies added late goals in the 83rd and 84th minutes to stretch the final margin to 4-1.
HOME OPENERS: Since starting the soccer program in 2001, Rice is 7-5-3 in its first home game of the season. In 2015 the Owls lost the home-opener to national power Texas A&M at home by a score of 4-2. The Blue & Gray are looking for the program's first home-opening win since 2011.
HBU SERIES: Rice is 2-0-0 when facing HBU. The crosstown foes have played a number of exhibitions and scrimmages over the years, but the teams have not officially met on the field since 2007. The Owls defeated HBU 4-0 in the first meeting in 2006, followed by a 2-0 victory the following season.