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Rice Soccer (4-3-1) opens Conference USA league play on the road this weekend. The Owls travel to Western Kentucky to face the Hilltoppers on Friday (Sept. 25) at 6 pm. The Blue & Gray then compete at Marshall on Sept. 27 at 11 am. All times listed are Central Time.
This Week's Soccer Links
Friday, Sept. 25: Rice at Western Kentucky, 6 pm (Central Time)
Sunday, Sept. 27: Rice at Marshall, 11 am (Central Time)
In the below video, Rice head soccer coach Nicky Adams previews the upcoming matches, and updates the Owls' progress heading into the C-USA slate.
QUICK ON THE OWLS (4-3-1): 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 51-33-8. A former pro player and All-America honoree while playing at Texas A&M, Adams was just recently inducted 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.
RICE IN CONF OPENERS: Since starting its soccer program in 2001, Rice is a combined 7-7-0 when playing its very first conference game of the year and a modest 6-8-0 when playing a league game on the road for the first time. Under coach Adams, however, the Owls are in fact 5-0-0 in their C-USA opener and the team has also won each of its last five conference road debuts.
PREVIOUS OUTING: It's been two weeks since the Owls last played. The team had open dates on the schedule on both Sept. 18-20. Prior to that, Rice was defeated in both games of a road trip played Sept. 11-13. Rice fell at Dayton 5-2 on a rainy Friday night (Sept. 11). The team then dropped a 2-0 decision at Miami-Ohio two days later. That had not happened to Rice soccer in a while. The last time for the Owls to get swept in both games of a single weekend was two years ago in 2013 -- and one of those games was in overtime. The last time for Rice to drop both games of non-conference weekend was in 2012.
ON WKU: Western Kentucky is 4-2-2 on the season. Last weekend the Hilltoppers posted a big non-conference home victory over Memphis. WKU has not lost a match since a road game at LSU back in August.
THE RICE-WKU SERIES: Rice leads the series with Western Kentucky 2-0-1. The teams met most-recently in last season's opening round of the C-USA Tournament where the Owls claimed a 1-0 win. A 2013 contest in Bowling Green, Ky., ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
ON MARSHALL: This year Marshall had the best non-conference record of any team in the league at 7-1-1. What's particularly impressive is that the Thundering Herd has had its success despite playing the bulk of its early schedule away from home -- a total of six games where the team is 4-1-1. Marshall has an unblemished 3-0-0 record at home. Entering the weekend only one C-USA team has allowed fewer goals than the six surrendered by Marshall.
THE RICE-MARSHALL SERIES: The Owls lead the all-time series with Marshall 4-3-1, but it's been a while since the last meeting. Rice and the Thundering Herd have not faced each other since 2013, when Marshall registered a 3-1 win in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament played in Houston on the Owls' home field. Not only is this Rice's first trip to West Virginia since 2011, and the Owls haven't won at Marshall since 2007.