Rice Soccer (3-1-0) is home for two matches this week - a classic rewind of sorts to schools the Owls' athletics teams played against for almost three-quarters of a century. Rice hosts state-rival SMU on September 3 at 6 pm, a special Thursday evening clash and not the usual Friday game-night. The Blue & Gray then hosts SEC power Arkansas on Sept. 6 (Sunday) at 7 pm - an innovative night start on a Sunday to beat the heat and take advantage of Monday's Labor Day Holiday.
This Week's Soccer Links
Thursday, Sept. 3: SMU at Rice, 6 pm
Sunday, Sept. 6: Arkansas at Rice, 7 pm
In the below video, Rice head soccer coach Nicky Adams previews the (Week 3) upcoming matches, and updates the Owls' progress on the young season.
QUICK ON THE OWLS (3-1-0): The 2015 Rice soccer team returns seven of 11 starters from last season’s squad that posted a school record-tying 14 wins, won the C-USA Tournament Championship and advanced to national postseason play in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue & Gray 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, the 2015 Conference USA Coach of the Year who is now in her fifth full season at the helm of the program. Adams enters the weekend with a career record of 50-31-7. A former pro player and All-America honoree while playing at Texas A&M, Adams was just recently selected for induction into her alma mater’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Her coaching staff includes veteran assistant Allison Martino (now in her fourth year at Rice), and the rookie duo of Courtney Sirmans and Cami Koski, who are both in their first year with the program.
LAST WEEK: The Owls went undefeated in a pair of games away from home last weekend. On Aug. 28 (Friday) Rice beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 2-0 down on the island. On Sunday the Blue & Gray then returned to town to top longtime foe Sam Houston State by the same 2-0 score. That match was played downtown at BBVA Compass Stadium, the professional soccer home of both the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash.
OH CANADA! ANOTHER C-USA HONOR FOR HUGHES: Senior forward Lauren Hughes was named the Conference USA Soccer Co-Offensive Player of the Week, the league office announced from its headquarters in Irving, Texas, on Monday (Aug. 31). Hughes scored what proved to be both of the game-winning goals, and then recorded assists, in each of the Owls' 2-0 wins over the weekend. The Ottawa, Canada, native opened her week when she converted a free kick from outside the 18 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday night. Hughes then dished out an assist on the insurance goal in the 76th minute. On Sunday against Sam Houston State, the C-USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year put Rice on the board in the 41st minute with a close chip shot into the back of the net. A mere 1:02 later, Hughes added an assist on another score as the Owls won their third-straight match. The goals were the 34th and 35th of her career, breaking her own school record. After dominating the action at BBVA Compass Stadium, Hughes was as big a hit downtown as Petula Clark!
ON SMU: Last Sunday (Aug. 30) SMU stormed to a convincing 5-1 victory over fellow Houston school Texas Southern University. The Mustangs have shown what they are capable of on the offensive end in their last two matches. SMU has tallied 26 shots in the last 100 minutes of play, with freshman Hannah Fleet leading the way with seven shots and one goal in that span.
THE RICE-SMU SERIES: Rice has faced SMU a total of 17 times since 2001, the second-most number of times the Owls have played any opponent. Thursday's meeting is the 18th in the series and that will lift the Mustangs into a tie for first place on Rice's most-played opponents list. (The Owls have played UTEP 18 times since 2001.) The Blue & Gray is just 6-10-1 against SMU, but 4-1-1 in the last six meetings. The Owls have not lost to SMU in Houston since 2006.
ON ARKANSAS: SEC power Arkansas (3-1) is off to another sensational start and on the verge of breaking into the NCSCAA national Top 25. The Razorbacks' lone loss is to No. 6 ranked Penn State on the road. The Hogs have already defeated three high-RPI opponents in Stephen F. Austin, Yale and TCU.
THE RICE-ARKANSAS SERIES: The Owls are meeting the Razorbacks for just the second time. A year ago the foes batted to a 0-0 stalemate in Fayetteville, Ark. In that match the Rice defense bent while allowing 22 shots, but did not break. Then Rice junior Holly Hargreaves shared the match lead with five shots, including three on-goal.
SWC REWIND (ALMOST): For almost 75 years, the trio of Rice, SMU and Arkansas were all familiar league rivals in the old Southwest Conference. Rice and Arkansas were charter member of the league that began in the fall of 1915. SMU joined the conference in 1918, and the three rivals went head-to-head in almost every sport for the next 73 years. Arkansas left the fold in the spring of 1991 and the league officially disbanded in the spring of 1996. To be clear, the three schools were longtime college sports rivals... just not in soccer. The SWC never sponsored a conference championship for soccer (women's or men's). Rice University did not even start its varsity soccer program until 2001, a full five years after the league had already finished its run.