Sept. 29, 2010
THIS WEEK'S GAMES: The Rice soccer team, 5-5-0 overall and tied for first place in the Conference USA standings with a 2-0-0 league record, wraps-up the current homestand with two critical C-USA games this weekend. The Owls host conference rivals UTEP and Colorado College at the Rice Soccer Stadium on Oct. 1 & Oct. 3, respectively. Start time for Friday's match vs. UTEP is slated for 7 pm. Sunday's clash with Colorado College begins at noon. (Note the noon start is a time change from some earlier listings.)
LIVE IN-GAME STATS: Live in-game statistics for all Rice home matches are posted on the web. At the start of the game go to the GameTracker link at the top of this page, the soccer schedule page, or on the home page of RiceOwls.com, and follow a text play-by-play of the action.
CATCH THE HOME GAMES LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: Both C-USA soccer games this weekend 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 Court Jackson (Hanszen '08) for the Rice call of home soccer games this season. More information for watching Rice sports is at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).
HOME SWEET HOME: The Owls are in the final stretch of a lengthy five-game homestand that began on Sept. 18 and concludes on Sunday vs. Colorado College. Playing at home has traditionally been good news. In the 88 games played on campus at the Soccer & Track Stadium, Rice owns an all-time record of 56-25-7 (.676)... A year ago the Blue & Gray was among the C-USA leaders in home attendance by averaging 454 fans per game. The 2010 team is well ahead of that pace by averaging a steady 638 fans per game... Rice is back on the road next week for C-USA showdowns at Southern Miss (Oct. 8) and UCF (Oct. 10).
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2010 Rice soccer team features 15 letterwinners, including four regular starters, from last season's team that went 6-10-3. A total of nine newcomers are on the roster, eight of which are freshmen from the club and high school ranks. The Blue & Gray has some experienced players in key spots, such as the forward tandem of senior Korey Taylor and junior Hope Ward. Rice boasts two experienced goalkeepers with the senior duo of Meghan Erkel and Catherine Fitzsimmons. The Owls are currently without senior midfielder Kate Edwards due to an injury. Edwards leads the team in goals (3) and had been the team leader in shots.
RICE SOCCER TURNS TEN: After starting the team from scratch and taking the field for the first time in on 2001, the Owls' soccer program is celebrating its 10th anniversary season in 2010. Rice signed its first recruiting class in the spring of 2001 and was on the field and playing by August 31 that same year. In an electric on-campus atmosphere, the program won its debut match by defeating Army 3-2 at home.
NICKY ADAMS SERVING AS INTERIM HEAD COACH: Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan announced on Sept. 15 that Nicky Adams would serve as the Owls' Interim Head Soccer Coach, and that she would remain in that role for the remainder of the season. Adams joined the soccer staff in January of 2003 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2006. She replaced former head coach Chris Huston, who started the Rice program in 2001... Adams, a former All-America soccer player and 2001 graduate of Texas A&M, made her interim head coaching debut vs. No. 9 ranked BYU on Sept. 18. The team is 2-1-0 since that game... She is assisted by coach John Adams (Cincinnati, 2003), who is in his first year with the team.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Top SMU 2-1 In Overtime (Sept. 26)
HOUSTON - Sophomore defender and Dallas native Lauren LaGro scored the deciding goal in overtime to lift the Rice soccer team to a 2-1 Conference USA win over visiting SMU on Sept. 26 at the Rice Soccer Stadium. With the victory the Owls claimed their second-straight C-USA match and are tied for first place in the league standings with a 2-0-0 record as conference play began... In the 93rd minute LaGro lined up a free kick from just under 40 yards out on the right side and blasted away. The ball came in high at the goal's left corner and found a seam above a leaping SMU keeper to land in the back of the net. LaGro's second career goal was also her second in as many games after scoring in the C-USA win over Tulsa on Friday night. Sunday's game-winner closed out the overtime final and helped the Owls keep pace with fellow 2-0-0 C-USA teams Houston, UCF and UTEP... "This is a tremendous win for us," said Rice interim head coach Nicky Adams. "SMU is a great team with great athletes and it means a lot to beat a team like that. It's important with home games that we get results. This whole weekend our girls played with so much heart and they fought all the way that I'm really proud of them. We always tell them to `go all-out for 90 minutes.' Well today they did that, plus a little more to win in overtime. It was awesome."... Rice set the tempo with some early offensive pressure. The Owls jumped on the scoreboard in the seventh minute and, with no shortage of foreshadowing, converted on direct free kick for a 1-0 lead. With 6:55 on the clock junior forward Hope Ward uncharacteristically stepped-in to take the free kick after an SMU foul. With something that is perhaps a little more familiar, the junior from Kingwood, Tex., found the back of the Mustang net... "I usually don't take those set pieces," Ward explained, "but this time, I don't know, I just felt like jumping in-there. The whole team has been like that the last couple of games. We all want to contribute and we're all playing with a lot of confidence in each other. Everyone is taking it upon themselves to help get things started and it's been going well. We're playing good soccer."... At the end of 45 minutes Rice held an 8-5 advantage on shots and Ward had taken four, with one already going-in. The Blue & Gray worked to try and post its second-straight shutout with a solid second half, but the Mustangs would not go away so easy. In the 68th minute Pony defender Lauren Shepherd served a long free kick from the left side in front of the Rice goal where a flying Amanda Burgardt headed-in a shot from close range. Burgardt's second goal of the season knotted-up the game 1-1 and set the stage for the final act... At the end of regulation Rice held a 16-9 lead in shots and a 5-3 edge in corner kicks. The first true shot of the extra frame was Lagro's free kick in the 93rd which brought the curtain down on the 12th career meeting between the I-45 rivals. It marked only the third time for Rice soccer to defeat SMU dating back to 2001, but LaGro stated the Owls had already planned to spend all their energy on getting to 2-0-0. In fact the standout from Plano West High School took the time to put in a little extra work on long free kicks just in case the Owls, maybe... possibly... on the off chance... might need just such a goal on a free kick to win a big game... and win it in overtime. ... "I've been practicing those for the last couple weeks," LaGro said. "I've had a lot of good free kicks in practice and actually I didn't think this one was a very good ball, until it went in. It feels great to win today and Friday. We were definitely a little tired after going all-out to get Friday's win, but we also wanted this one and we weren't going to lose," the Dallas native said.
RECENT OFFENSIVE CATALYST: Junior forward Hope Ward recorded a goal and an assist over the weekend to help pace the Owls to two C-USA victories. She tallied the assist on Korey Taylor's game-winning goal last Friday against Tulsa. On Sunday vs. SMU the Kingwood, Tex., native scored the opening goal of the game in the seventh minute to give Rice a critical early lead. Ward led the team with nine shots last week, including two on-goal. She finished the C-USA weekend playing 166 of the team's 182+ minutes (90.9 percent)... Ward is also plenty tough. She recently played five games with stitches in her head after a collision suffered in a match in early September.
PLAYING WELL ON "D": Not only did sophomore defender Lauren LaGro play 178 of the Owls 182+ minutes last weekend (97.5 percent), the Dallas native also tallied a pair of goals to help the Blue & Gray start the C-USA slate with an undefeated 2-0-0 ledger. On defense LaGro was part of a Rice backline that limited the two C-USA foes to just one goal and an austere 11.5 shots per game. She also came forward to score her first career goal on a free kick Friday against Tulsa before notching the game-winner on a free kick in overtime Sunday against SMU.
ON UTEP: Rice has two talented C-USA teams to contend with this weekend... UTEP enters Friday's showdown with a sterling 9-1-0 record and an eye-opening 3.8 goals-per-game average. The Miners control the tempo by routinely doubling their opponents in shots per game, 20.8 to 10.3. Nine different Miners have already scored goals this season, including international standout Brittany Kindzierski with 10 goals and three assists. Last weekend UTEP thumped No. 25 ranked Memphis to stay undefeated in the league at 2-0-0.
THE UTEP SERIES: When the Owls host UTEP on Friday, the Parliament will have played the Miners more times (13) than any other opponent since starting the soccer program in 2001. Rice has played UTEP and SMU 12 times. (The 12th career meeting with the Mustangs was a week ago in Houston.) The Owls lead the all-time series with the Miners 7-5, including a dramatic 1-0 victory in El Paso last October. Prior to that Rice win, UTEP had claimed three-straight meetings by identical 1-0 scores. That's four-straight meetings where the Rice-UTEP game has been decided by a single goal.
ON COLORADO COLLEGE: Colorado College has played 10 matches and only two teams have been able to beat the Tigers so far. In fact No. 13-ranked Oklahoma State faced Colorado College and the best the Big 12 power could manage was a tie. Explosive senior forward Tiffany Brown paces CC with 38 shots while goalkeeper Caitlin Hulyo and the defenders have combined for five complete game shutouts. Before facing Rice, Colorado College plays across town at the University of Houston on Friday night.
THE COLORADO COLLEGE SERIES: Rice leads the all-time soccer series with Colorado College 2-1-1. The teams met for the first time in Colorado Springs on Oct. 6 of 2006 where the Tigers claimed a 1-0 home win. The Owls then posted a pair of 2-1 wins in two meetings after that, both held in Houston. The teams battled to a 0-0 deadlock last season up in the Rocky Mountains.
THIS `N THAT: Rice grabbed a share of first place in the C-USA standings by defeating Tulsa and SMU at home to open league play over the weekend. The two opening victories marked only the third time in school history, and the first time since 2007, for Rice to begin conference play with a 2-0-0 ledger... The Owls (5-5-0) are only one win away from matching last year's final win total (6) and already halfway to last season's number of C-USA victories (4)... Rice is averaging 19.0 shots per C-USA game... A year ago the Rice defense was last in the conference in shots allowed per game (15.5), but so far the Owls' starting backline (which features four players who had never played together until this year, including two true freshmen), has allowed a much-improved improved 11.8 shots per game... On Friday vs. Tulsa the Blue & Gray exploded down the field on the opening whistle. Senior forward Korey Taylor scored 21 seconds into the contest. It was Rice's fastest goal to open a match since Marissa Galvan (a charter Owl from the first-ever Rice squad in 2001), scored 41 seconds into a game in 2004... The goal was Taylor's second of the year and the 11th of her Rice career moving her into eighth place on the school's all-time goals list... Junior forward Hope Ward notched her team-leading fourth assist of the season on Taylor's goal and moved into fourth on Rice's list for career assists with 13... Sophomore Lauren LaGro may be a defender on the Owls' new-look backline, but she became the first Owl to score in back-to-back games since Korey Taylor accomplished the feat two different times in 2009... Senior keeper Meghan Erkel had two of her best games between the pipes over the weekend. Erkel finished the two league games with 10 total saves to extend her school record for saves to 277. She also maintained a .909 save percentage and an 0.49 goals-against average.
DID YOU KNOW? More than 1,000 fans came out to Rice's home game against No. 9 BYU on Sept. 18. The 1,047 vocal fans gave the Owls their largest home-attended game since 2003.
THREE OWLS GARNER CAL ALL-TOURNEY HONORS: Three Owls, Julia Barrow, Kate Edwards and Annie Kadota, were named to the California Invitational All-Tournament Team on Sept. 3-5. All three of the Owls are California natives. Kadota and Edwards scored goals to help lead Rice to a 2-1 overtime victory against San Francisco on Sunday. Barrow played a total of 175 minutes in the midfield in the Owls' two weekend games.
WHEN FIRST GOALS ARE ALSO GAME-WINNERS: True freshman Jessica Howard scored her first career Rice goal Aug. 22 vs. Stephen F. Austin with a textbook bicycle kick in front of the visitor's net. The goal proved to be even more dramatic because it also was officially the game-winning goal. Howard became only the 12th player in school history to record a game-winning goal with her first career goal. Two Owls, current juniors Annie Kadota and Hope Ward, accomplished the feat as freshmen two years ago. Current sophomore Julia Barrow's first goal in 2009 was also a game-winner (on the road at Stephen F. Austin).
WE'VE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO...: The 2009 soccer season was already over when it was announced last spring, but in case you missed it, Rice midfielder Elizabeth Nesbit was named the 2010 Conference USA Spirit of Service Award winner for the sport of women's soccer. Nesbit, a senior from Waterford, Va., earned the prestigious honor from the league office for her superior charity and volunteer service efforts over every other women's soccer player in the conference. Known simply as "Z" by her teammates, Nesbit performed volunteer service including, but not limited to, working with a medical team in Malawi, Africa, prior to the start of the 2009 soccer season. She helped provide medical aid to children in rural and often isolated parts Malawi, and her humanitarian efforts made her an easy choice for the league's Spirit of Service Award last spring.
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.
M*A*S*H UNIT: The Owls have missed the play of Kate Edwards for four games but that's not all the Owls have had to overcome. True freshman forward/defender Cortney Simmons has been sidelined for the season. Simmons is one of the gems of the Owls highly-touted recruiting class from the recent spring signing period. Rice has also played without injured players Megan Aultman, Kasey McKenny and Marie Hunnell.
OTHER C-USA ACTION: All the Conference USA teams are going head-to-head again this weekend. The league's weekend slate is as follows:
Friday (Oct. 1)
SMU at East Carolina, 3 pm
Tulsa at Marshall, 6 pm
Colorado College at Houston, 7 pm
UCF at Memphis, 7 pm
UTEP at Rice, 7 pm
Southern Miss at UAB, 7 pm
Sunday (Oct. 3)
SMU at Marshall, 11 am
Tulsa at East Carolina, Noon
Colorado College at Rice, Noon
UTEP at Houston, 1 pm
Southern Miss at Memphis, 1 pm
UCF at UAB, 2 pm