Oct. 7, 2010
THIS WEEK'S GAMES: The Rice soccer team, 7-5-0 overall and tied for first place in the Conference USA standings with a perfect 4-0-0 league record, takes to the road for two critical C-USA games this weekend. The Owls visit conference rivals Southern Miss and UCF on Oct. 8 & Oct. 10, respectively. Start time for Friday's match at Southern Miss is slated for 4 pm. Sunday's meeting with UCF begins at noon Central Time (1 pm Eastern).
TIED FOR FIRST PLACE IN CONFERENCE USA: After two weekends of Conference USA play the Owls are tied atop of the league standings with the University of Houston. Both teams have 4-0-0 C-USA ledgers and, as travel partners, play the same two opponents (in alternating order) each of the next three weekends through the end of the regular season. Rice is off to its best conference start in school history, has already matched its conference win total from 2009 (4), and is just two victories away from matching its highest C-USA win total in a single-season (6 set in 2005 and again in 2008). The highest the Blue & Gray has ever finished in the C-USA standings is tied for third (2005). The Owls twice tied for second as members of the Western Athletic Conference from 2001 to 2004.
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.
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 experienced goalkeepers with the senior duo of Meghan Erkel and Catherine Fitzsimmons. The Owls have played the last six games without senior midfielder Kate Edwards due to an injury. Edwards had been the team leader in goals (3) and shots before being sidelined. The team regularly plays three true freshmen in the starting lineup.
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 4-1-0 since that game... She is assisted by coach John Adams (Cincinnati, 2003), who is in his first year with the team.
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.
TRAVELING OWLS: The Owls have wrapped-up a lengthy five-game homestand and are on the road for the first time in almost a month. Rice has not defeated an opponent on its home field this season. The team did beat the University of San Francisco in a game played in the Bay Area of California, but the match was held at Cal's neutral field in Berkeley, Ca.
HIGH RPI: The NCAA has come out with its first Women's Soccer RPI of the season and the Owls are 41st in the nation. Check out the NCAA's RPI link to see the full listing.
REGIONAL RANKING: Rice soccer is ranked 10th in the Central Region in the latest poll from National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). The regional ranking is the Owls' first since October of 2008. Check out the NSCAA web page and the organization's latest Hendrickcars.com Central Regional Rankings at these links.
NSCAA Home Page
Central Regional Rankings (Oct. 4, 2010).
WARD NAMED C-USA OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: IRVING, Tex. -- Junior forward Hope Ward has been named the Conference USA offensive player of the week for soccer the league office announced from its headquarters in Irving, Tex., on Monday (Oct. 4). Goalkeepers Cami Koski (Houston) and Courtney Webb (SMU) were named the C-USA co-defenders of the week... Ward recorded a goal and two assists over the weekend to help pace the Owls to two more C-USA victories and maintain a share of first place in the league standings with the program's best conference start in history (4-0-0). She tallied an assist on Hayley Williams' game-winning goal in Friday night's 1-0 victory vs. UTEP. On Sunday vs. Colorado College, Ward first had the assist on Korey Taylor's game-tying goal in the 82nd minute then scored the game-winner with just six minutes left in regulation. The Owls' standout from Kingwood shared the team lead with seven shots on the week, including two on-goal for a .286 percentage. Ward finished the C-USA weekend playing 176 of the team's 180 total minutes (97.8 percent)... The award marks the first time for Ward to earn the league's offensive player of the week honor. She is the first Rice player to earn the C-USA weekly accolades since Katelyn Ostendorf did so as a defender on Oct. 26, 2009. Ward is the Owls' first offensive player to earn the honor since Erin Scott on Oct. 20, 2008.
OTHER HONORS FROM AROUND THE WEB: The NCAA RPI is now on-line and just down the cyber-neighborhood from that site, the blog at NCAA.com has noticed the noise Rice soccer is making. The NCAA.com blog gave Rice a little shout-out in its weekend wrap-up... In other Internet accolades, Hope Ward was named to CollegeSoccer360.com's weekly honors list.
FOUR GAME WIN STREAK: The current four-game win-streak is Rice's longest in a single-season since winning five-straight in September of 2006. The Owls had a four-game non-losing streak of 3-0-1 to close out last season. Rice also had a five-game non-losing streak of 4-0-1 that stretched from the end of 2006 through the first three games of 2007... The longest win-streak in school history is a 7-0-0 run in the final weeks of the 2003 season.
FOUR GAME C-USA WIN STREAK: The current four-game conference win-streak is the Owls' longest as a C-USA member. Rice had a four-game non-losing streak (3-0-1) in C-USA play on three occasions (2005, 2007 & 2009). The Blue & Gray also once defeated four-straight C-USA opponents in 2005 when the team made its dramatic run to the league's postseason title... Rice's longest conference win-streak is five-straight as a member of the WAC in 2003. That 2003 squad went on to win seven-straight after taking the last five in the WAC regular season and two more in the league tournament.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Finish Homestand With 2-1 Victory Over Colorado College
HOUSTON - Junior forward Hope Ward assisted on Korey Taylor's game-tying goal in the 82nd minute then scored the game-winner in the 84th to help rally the Rice soccer team to a dramatic 2-1 Conference USA victory over visiting Colorado College Oct. 3 at home... Behind an 11-7 shots advantage in the first half Colorado College opened the scoring early. In the 20th minute, Tiger junior Elizabeth Wright served a long centering pass to Sydney Fetter at the keeper's box. Fetter headed the ball in on the left side for her first goal of the season and 1-0 Tiger lead... Colorado College held the lead at the intermission and all the way until the closing minutes of the last act. In the 82nd minute Ward brought the ball down the right wing and passed to Taylor from 10 yards out. The senior from McKinney, Tex., was covered by two Tiger defenders and didn't get a shot-off with her right foot, but spun to take an improvised attempt with her left. The ball found the back of the net on the left side to tie the game at 1-1. It was Taylor's third goal of the season and the 12th of her career... In the process Ward had tallied her team-leading sixth assist, and the 15th of her college career. The Kingwood, Tex., standout moved into a tie for third on the Owls' career assists list, but she wasn't done igniting the offense just yet. Just 96 second later, in the 84th minute, freshman Hayley Williams found Ward with a pass just inside the 18. She unleashed a shot and scored to give Rice its first lead of the day at 2-1. The Owls had come back, and then protected the margin for the final 6-plus minutes for the end result... In addition to the late offensive fireworks, Rice also had a sound and solid effort from goalkeeper Catherine Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons replaced starter Meghan Erkel in the 21st minute when she had to be assisted off the field with an injury. Fitzsimmons answered the call with four saves and was one of a couple of key Rice replacements on the day. The Owls were also without regular starters Kate Edwards (three goals) and Jessica Howard (two goals) and went deep into the bench for a team victory... Not only does Rice remain a perfect 4-0-0 in the league, the team improved to 7-5-0 on the full season. Colorado College dropped to 4-4-4 overall and 0-3-1 in C-USA play.
PLAYING WELL ON "D": Not only did true freshman defender Hayley Williams play all 180 minutes of the Owls two wins over the weekend, the Dallas native also tallied a goal and an assist... On defense Williams was part of a Rice backline that limited the two C-USA foes to just one goal and an austere 12.0 shots per game. She also came forward to score her first career goal (with a header). On Sunday against Colorado College Williams played all 90 minutes and had the assist on Hope Ward's game-winner.
ON SOUTHERN MISS: Southern Miss is 3-8-1 on the season and 0-4-0 in C-USA. The Golden Eagles have a winning record on their home field and a balanced attack where six different players have contributed two goals each. Defensively USM allows just 12.8 shots per game.
THE USM SERIES: Rice leads its series with Southern Miss 4-0. The Owls are making only their third appearance in Hattiesburg, Miss., since the start of league play in 2005.
ON UCF: Steady as ever, the Knights of UCF are again unbeaten in Conference USA action (3-0-1) and 8-2-2 overall. So far UCF has outscored league opponents at a 16-7 clip. A few weeks ago the Knights blitzed then No. 19 ranked Arizona State by an eye-opening 5-0 score on the Sun Devils' home field in Tempe, Ariz.
THE UCF SERIES: UCF leads the all-time series with Rice, 5-1-0. The Knights won each of the first three meetings between the schools. UCF has also won the last two games, by identical scores of 2-1. The Knights defeated Rice 1-0 in a regular season game in Houston in 2006. It was the same score at the semifinals of the 2007 C-USA Tournament in El Paso. The lone Owl win was in 2009, a 2-1 victory in double-overtime in Orlando, Fla. (Oct. 17).
WHEN FIRST GOALS ARE ALSO GAME-WINNERS: True freshman Hayley Williams scored her first career Rice goal on Oct. 1 vs. UTEP with a header after a corner kick. The goal proved to be even more dramatic because it also was officially the game-winning goal. Williams became only the 13th player in school history to record a game-winning goal with her first career goal. Fellow freshman Jessica Howard accomplished the same feat earlier this year vs. Stephen F. Austin. Howard unchained a textbook bicycle kick in front of the visitor's net to make her the 12th player to knock 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).
THIS `N THAT: Rice is averaging 17.5 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 Sunday senior forward Korey Taylor scored her third goal of the season and the 12th of her career. Junior Hope Ward tallied the assist on the play, her team-leading sixth of the season and the 15th of her college career to move her into a tie for third on the Owls' career assists list... Rice notched the Colorado College win Sunday, and did so without three of its regular starters (Kate Edwards, Jessica Howard and Meghan Erkel) on the field due to injuries.
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.
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 six 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. 8)
Rice at Southern Miss, 4 pm
Colorado College at Tulsa, 7 pm
East Carolina at Memphis, 7 pm
Houston at UCF, 7 pm
Marshall at UAB, 7 pm
UTEP at SMU, 7 pm
Sunday (Oct. 10)
Rice at UCF, Noon
Houston at Southern Miss, 1 pm
Marshall at Memphis, 1 pm
UTEP at Tulsa, 1 pm
Colorado College at SMU, 2 pm
East Carolina at UAB, 2 pm