THIS WEEK: The Rice Soccer team is back home to open Conference USA league play on Sept.18. The Owls play defending C-USA champion North Texas at 7 pm at Holloway Field on the Rice campus. In the below video, Rice head soccer coach Nicky Adams previews the upcoming match, and updates the Owls' progress hosting a big home match this Sunday.
ON GAMEDAY: There’s two big promotions this Sunday. One is the Soccer program is hosting its annual Camper Reunion Night. We’ll welcome back all the Owl soccer summer campers to Holloway Field. The second is it’s . Call the ticket office at (713) 348-OWLS for details.
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2016 Rice soccer team (3-2-1) 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 60-39-20. 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: TULSA, Okla. -- The Rice soccer team jumped out to a three goal lead and hung-on for a hard-fought 3-2 road victory over Tulsa in the finale of the Golden Hurricane Classic Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma… For the first time this season Rice found out what a difference a couple of early goals can make. The Owls' Michigan tandem of Annie Walker and Jenny Fichera both scored in the first five minutes of the contest and went on to hold a comfortable 9-3 advantage in shots in the first half… In only the third minute, junior Nia Stallings brought the ball down the left side and centered a pass to Walker flying down the middle of the field. Walker let loose an attempt near the 18 and found the back of the Tulsa net. Her first goal of the season put the Owls in front, but the Blue & Gray wasn't quite finished… In the fifth minute, senior Jenny Fichera fielded a throw-in well out on the right wing. A defender by trade, Fichera dribbled-in and saw an opening. The veteran blasted the ball toward the Golden Hurricane net and in a flash the shot was past the keeper for a 2-0 Owl lead… Rice continued to apply the offensive pressure with five more shots on-goal before the intermission and was more than just close a couple of times. Freshman Lianne Mananquill hit the crossbar in 22nd minute, but the team finally stretched the margin to three in the second stanza. This time as the Tulsa defense began to shift to Walker, she threaded a pass to Wolf close to the 18… In the 54th minute Wolfe converted on her shot attempt for her team-leading third goal of the season. Tulsa would not go away so easily at home and in fact began to mount a rally with a pair of second half goals. The Rice defenders helped clear out a dangerous shot in the 66th minute for a team-save that went over the end line. The Golden Hurricane immediately answered on the ensuing a corner kick and then dramatic long-range shot for a goal in the 89th… Rice was tested in the second half to be sure, but didn't break. Freshman goalkeeper Samantha Colley finished with six saves to secure the 3-2 final. The Owls are now 3-2-1 on the season. Tulsa is 3-4-1 overall.
NORTH SERIES: The Rice-North Texas series is an equal 3-3-1. The Mean Green claimed a 2-1 decision over Rice last season in Denton, Texas. In 2014 the teams played to a tie at Holloway Field prior to the Blue & Gray claiming a 2-0 win in the Championship Final of the C-USA Tournament.