THIS WEEK: The Rice soccer team is back in action with a pair of out-of-state matches this weekend at the Tulsa Classic. The Owls meet former conference rivals Memphis on Friday (Sept. 9) at 5 pm, followed by tournament host Tulsa on Sunday (Sept. 11) at 3:30 pm.
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2016 Rice soccer team (2-1-1) returns seven of 11 starters from last season's squad that went 10-7-2 and made the C-USA Tournament. The Owls return a total of 19 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 weekend with a career record of 59-38-20. 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 went unbeaten at home last weekend. Rice played to a 3-3 double-overtime tie vs. Samford on Friday (Sept. 2) before thumping longtime foe Sam Houston State 5-0 on Sunday (Sept. 4). A total of seven different Owls scored goals last weekend. Not only was the Blue & Gray's five goals the program's biggest scoring outburst in two years, it was the team's first shutout of the young season.
MEMPHIS SERIES: Memphis leads the all-time series with Rice 4-2-1. The Owls' best two results were a pair of dramatic upsets over the Tigers by the scores of 2-1 in 2009 and 2-0 on the road in Tennessee in 2012. Both contests were nationally televised. The 2012 match was the last time for Rice to face the Tigers.
TULSA SERIES: Rice leads the all-time series with Tulsa 8-5-0. The Owls were defeated by Tulsa 1-0 in the most recent meeting in Houston in 2013. The Blue & Gray beat the Golden Hurricane 2-0 the last time the teams played in Tulsa in 2011.