Sept. 14, 2011
THIS WEEK: The Rice soccer team, 4-2-1 on the season and ranked in the Central Region, makes its first home appearance in two weeks on Saturday (Sept. 17). The Owls face Western Kentucky (5-2-0) at 7 pm at Holloway Field at the Rice Soccer Stadium.
CATCH THE GAME LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: All Rice soccer home games are scheduled for a live web broadcast on OwlVision All-Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which provides a live video and audio feed on the Internet. Join broadcaster Charlie Adams for the Rice call of the home soccer action. More information for watching Rice sports is at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2011 Rice soccer team features 16 letterwinners, including seven regular starters, from last season's team that went 8-8-4 and reached the Conference USA Tournament. A total of eight newcomers are on the squad, all of which are freshmen with elite club and high school experience. The Blue & Gray has four veteran seniors, led by Hope Ward in the midfield. Junior defender Amy Beger is a stalwart on the Owls' backline who earned all-region and conference honors last season.
HEAD COACH NICKY ADAMS: Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan promoted Nicky Adams to the Owls' head soccer coach on Nov. 15, 2010. Adams joined the Rice soccer staff in January of 2003 and was named associate head coach in 2006. She replaced former head coach Chris Huston (who started the Rice program in 2001) effective for the remainder of the 2010 schedule beginning with a home game against No. 9 BYU on Sept. 18. Adams, a former All-America soccer player and 2001 graduate of Texas A&M, has led the Owls to a 9-6-5 record since Sept. 18, 2010... She is assisted by coach John Adams (Cincinnati, 2003), who is in his second year with the team, Allison Martino (Texas A&M, 2008) who is in her first year at Rice, and Owl great Kate Edwards as the new student coach.
RANKED IN THE REGION: Rice has earned a regional ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), the organization announced on Sept. 5, 2011. After four-straight wins and the team's best start to a season since 2006, Rice was ranked No. 8 in the NSCAA's Central Region in its weekly coaches' poll. The Blue & Gray held that No. 8 regional ranking on the strength of tying BYU (the No. 20 ranked team in the country) last weekend on the road in Provo, Utah. The regional ranking is the Owls' first while under the direction of head coach Nicky Adams. View the latest NSCAA Central Region poll here.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Battle To 0-0 Draw At BYU: PROVO, Utah - Rice freshman goalkeeper Amy Czyz tied a career-high with four saves and notched her fourth complete game shutout of the young season as the Owl soccer team battled No. 20 ranked BYU to a 0-0 tie on Sept. 10 in Provo, Utah... After 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods, both defenses proved unyielding in a scoreless deadlock. Rice head coach Nicky Adams wanted to make it clear that the Owls play to win. She also knows, however, that the team can build on the energized performance it logged last Saturday against a Top 20 team on the road, not to mention that it was with a true freshman in goal before a vocal crowd of almost 2,000 BYU fans. After a 1-0 loss at undefeated Utah State on Thursday, the head coach saw a much-needed shift in team's energy... "BYU is a national powerhouse that has made a lot of appearances, and has done well, in the NCAA Tournament," Coach Adams said. "We had a totally different energy level tonight, defensively and offensively. Defensively we did what we needed to do against BYU, make them go backward most of the game. They're a high-powered offense that uses three forwards. We did exactly what we needed to do. On the offensive side, we were able to string together passes, and we had really very good opportunities on half of our ten shots."... Rice (now 4-2-1) was quick to get on the offensive. In fact, the Owls were so anxious to get on the attack the team was flagged for offside in the opening minute of the contest. The Blue & Gray went on to hold a 7-3 advantage in shots in the first half. Just before the intermission in the 44th minute, Owl sophomore Hayley Williams came extremely close on a header and managed to hit the post... "We were offside twice, and both of those were by a couple of steps," Coach Adams said. "We were getting into the final third, and sometimes players get excited about making something happen in a big game. Jessica Howard had maybe her best performance at running the offense and creating plays up front. She played well, and so did Julia Barrow and Hope Ward, who was a workhorse in the midfield. Hayley hit the post and had two legitimate headers off corners. She had another great game, on both offense and defense... "Our entire backline, Hayley, Rachel Petmecky, Alexandra Trenary, Lauren LaGro and Amy Beger were phenomenal tonight," she added. "We told them what we needed them to do and they did it for 110 minutes tonight."... The backline came up big on defense and certainly helped their freshman keeper into two overtime frames, but Czyz also came up with a game-saving play of her own. In the game's 99th minute, where the first overtime was winding down to its conclusion, BYU made a long shot in to traffic in front of the Rice goal. There was a mad series of collisions for the ball by players from both teams. The situation was similar to Rice's game just last week against LSU where there was a scramble in front of the goal in the closing minute of overtime... In that game, Rice won the scramble and put the ball in the back of the LSU net for home win. Now it was once again late in overtime, only the situation was reversed with the ball in front of the Owls' goal. The 5-foot-4 Czyz made an athletic play to get her hands on the ball and get Rice out of danger... "I'm still not sure how Amy got that ball," Coach Adams explained. "That was an unbelievable save. She plays all-out... "The Rice soccer team, everyone, showed-up to play," the head coach added. "It was night-and-day from (the game on) Thursday. It's amazing what happens when the Rice soccer team shows up to play, and we put all of their energy into a common objective. It's very contagious. It's exciting. That's what Rice soccer is about. "The effort we had tonight was amazing. We want to have this energy for all the games the rest of the season."
100 RICE WINS: On Sept. 4 of this season the Rice soccer program recorded its 100th career victory with a 4-1 win over longtime rival Sam Houston State. Rice University began varsity soccer for the first time in 2001 and quickly reached the 100-win plateau in the 2011 season.
SAME STARTING POINT: When Rice hosts Western Kentucky Saturday not only will the game mark the first soccer meeting between the schools, it will mark the first time for Rice to meet one of the eleven soccer teams that started its varsity soccer program in the same year in which Rice did (2001).
PLEASED TO MEET YOU: Western Kentucky is a new opponent for Rice. Since 2006 the Owls are a balanced 9-9-2 when facing an opponent the program has never played before.
SIZZLING CZYZ: True freshman goalkeeper Amy Czyz has been sound-and-solid in seven starts this season. So far the Rice rookie keeper has maintained an .824 save percentage and a 0.425 goals-against average. Czyz' goals-against average is ranked No. 22 among the current NCAA leaders. The California native is one of only three freshmen in the nation's Top 22 for goals-against average.
PLAYING SOME `D': Credit Owl defenders for helping out their freshman goalkeeper. The foursome of all-conference honoree Amy Beger, former C-USA all-freshman honoree Hayley Williams, junior Lauren LaGro and sophomore Rachel Petmecky have combined to hold opponents to just 8.4 shots per game. That's not a lot of chances over a 90-minute contest. Yes, it is still extremely early in the 2011 season, but for now that mark would be the best in school history for keeping foes from taking shots. The school record for fewest shots allowed average is 9.4 set back in 2003. Stellar defense helped that Owl team win seven games in a row and reach the Championship Final of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
MORE ON SHOTS: Rice has done so well in limiting shots that last Saturday at BYU marked the first time this year the Owls were out-shot in a game by their opponent. BYU launched a shot in the closing seconds of double-overtime to finish the contest with an 11-10 advantage in shots. When Rice lost at Utah State by a score of 1-0 two days before (Sept. 8), it was the Aggies' only shot on-goal the entire game. This season the Owls have out-shot their opponent by a ratio 2.1-to-1. The team's advantage in corner kicks meanwhile has been a steady 1.4-to-1.
NEWS & NOTES:: Rice is off to its best start to a season since 2007 when that team also began the year with a 4-2-1 ledger... The 0-0 tie at BYU marked the second-straight year for the Blue & Gray to register a tie to a Top 20 team on the road under watch of head coach Nicky Adams. In 2010 Rice tied No. 19 UCF 1-1 in a league game in Orlando, Fla.... On the offensive side Rice has been distributing the attack equally across the roster. In seven games six different Owls have scored goals, while six different players have all registered assists... Senior midfielder Hope Ward has moved into a tie for second place on Rice's all-time list for career assists with 18. Ward now needs six more assists to tie the school record set during the 2007 season.
STREAK SNAPPED: Earlier sophomore forward Jessica Howard became the first Rice player to score a goal in three-straight games since All-Region honoree Erin Scott accomplished the feat in 2008. The Dallas native's streak was snapped as the Owls were shut out last week on the road at Utah State. No Rice player has ever scored in four-straight games.
SIGN-UP FOR THURSDAY'S FREE SOCCER CLINIC: The Rice soccer coaches and players are hosting a free soccer clinic on Thursday, Sept. 22, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Rice Soccer Stadium. The clinic is open to all age groups and promises to put the FUN in soccer fundamentals... Participants should plan on bringing their own soccer ball and water to the clinic. There will be an autograph session with the Owl players and free posters provided immediately following the clinic... For more details please contact Coach Martino at 713-348-6955, or by email to email@example.com.
VS. THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT: Western Kentucky has jumped out to a 5-2-0 start to the season. The Hilltoppers come to town riding a two-game win streak where the team recorded a pair of shutout victories.
BIG HOME CROWDS: The 1,481 fans that came to see the Rice-Houston game last season was the Owls' third-largest home soccer crowd in the program's history. Here's a closer look at Rice's big home crowds.
Rice's Largest Home Crowds Year Attn. Opponent 2001 1,752 Army 2001 1,487 Texas State 2010 1,481 Houston 2001 1,360 Houston 2005 1,276 Auburn 2005 1,273 UTEP 2005 1,087 Houston 2010 1,047 BYU
JUST FOR KICKS: Fans will once again have a chance to get some extra insight to the Owls' soccer team via RiceOwls.com. Over the course of the season the players will be featured one-by-one in a question & answer segment titled "Just For Kicks." Fans can check out the feature at the link at the top of this page.
OTHER C-USA ACTION: Conference USA's high-flying brand of soccer is in full-swing. The league's weekend slate is as follows:
Wednesday, Sept. 14 Houston at Houston Baptist 7 pm
Thursday, Sept. 15 Memphis at Vanderbilt 7 pm
Friday, Sept. 16 Marshall at Ball State, 3 pm
Fresno State at Colorado College, 5 pm
Louisiana Lafayette at Houston, 6 pm
Jacksonville at (20) UCF, 6 pm
Southern Miss at Northwestern State, 7 pm
UTEP at Sam Houston State, 7 pm
Utah State at Tulsa, 7:35 pm
Saturday, Sept. 17 Western Kentucky at Rice, 7 pm
Ole Miss at UAB, 7 pm
Sunday, Sept. 18
Florida Gulf Coast at (20) UCF, Noon
Arkansas at Colorado College, 1 pm
UTEP at UTSA, 1 pm
Southern Utah at Tulsa, 1:30 pm
East Carolina at Francis Marion, 2 pm
Prairie View A&M at SMU, 2:30 pm