THIS WEEK: The Rice Soccer team is back home for a pair of key Conference USA league matches on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. The Owls host C-USA co-leader Western Kentucky at 7 pm on Friday. The Blue & Gray then welcome longtime foe Southern Miss on Sunday at 1 pm. In the below video head coach Nicky Adams previews the upcoming games this weekend to be played at held Holloway Field on the Rice campus.
ON GAMEDAY: There’s two big promotions this weekend. The first is the soccer program is hosting its annual Club Team Night for the Friday showdown vs. WKU. The second is Sunday is Owls Kids Club Day where registered youngers can enjoy FREE tickets to this match. Call the ticket office at (713) 348-OWLS for details.
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2016 Rice soccer team (4-3-1 overall, 1-1-0) 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 week with a career record of 61-40-20. 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: RUSTON, La. – The Rice soccer team jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and pulled away for a 4-0 shutout Conference USA road victory at Louisiana Tech Thursday night in Ruston, La… Rice found a way to cool the hottest team in the conference that entered the contest with a seven-match win streak and had outscored opponents 31-6. The Owls held the bulk of the possession with a game of keep-away before striking for a goal in the tenth minute... Sophomore Annie Walker lined a corner kick from the left side into traffic in front of the Techster goal. Junior team captain Samantha Chaiken leapt and won the ball in the air, and headed it in for her first goal of the season... The Owls soon doubled the margin. In the 16th minute, Walker was back for another corner on the same side. She set the ball back in almost the same spot, but this time the ball deflected off a Tech player back into their own net for a 2-0 lead... LA Tech continued to battle in the second stanza, but Rice found the back of the net two more times to put the game out of reach. In the 76th minute, Jenny Fichera crossed a pass from the right wing in front of the goal where Darcy Mickalow chipped-in a close-range shot for her first goal of the season... Rice was not quite finished, however. In the 78th minute true freshman Haley Kostyshyn stole a deflection in the middle of the field and charged toward the Tech keeper. After crossing the 18 she blasted away on an attempt that found the back of the net for her first career goal and a 4-0 margin... The Blue & Gray finished with an 11-4 advantage in shots and held a 4-1 margin in corner kicks. Owl freshman keeper Samantha Colley finished the match with three saves, all in the second half… Rice is now 4-3-1 on the season and 1-1-0 in C-USA league play. Louisiana Tech is 9-2-1 overall and 1-1-0 in conference.
THE RICE - WKU SERIES: Rice leads the all-time series with Western Kentucky 3-0-1. Friday’s match is the first time for the teams to play in Houston since the very first meeting in 2011, a 3-2 Owl victory in double-overtime. The teams tied 0-0 in Kentucky in 2013 before the Blue & Gray claimed a 1-0 decision at a neutral site in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament in 2014. Rice won a road match at WKU a year ago, 3-1.
THE RICE – SOUTHERN MISS SERIES: Rice leads the all-time series with Southern Miss 9-0 dating back to when the Owls first joined Conference USA in 2005. Sunday’s contest, however, is the first meeting between the teams in two years when Rice topped the Golden Eagles at Holloway Field, 4-0. That has been USM’s only trip to the Rice campus dating back to 2012. The Owls are 4-0 when hosting Southern Miss in Houston.