Oct. 12, 2011
THIS WEEK: The Rice soccer team, 8-4-2 on the season and 3-2-1 in Conference USA action, is finally back home this weekend. The Owls face league foes UCF and Southern Miss on Oct. 14 & 16, respectively, in the team's final two home games of the regular season.
Friday's start time with the No. 23 ranked UCF Knights (8-2-4, 3-1-2) is set for 7 pm at Holloway Field on the Rice campus. The Rice soccer program has designated Friday's contest as the Breast Cancer Awareness game see more info below). Sunday's action against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (3-9-3, 0-5-1) begins at 1 pm.
CATCH THE GAMES LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: All Rice soccer home games 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 Charlie Adams for the Rice call of the home soccer action. All the information about watching Rice sports on-line is available at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).
FRIDAY NIGHT'S CONTEST IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS GAME: When Rice hosts UCF on Friday night, the Owls will be doing their part to `Help Kick Breast Cancer.' October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Rice soccer team has a number promotional items set up Friday that will help raise money to fight the disease. Team members will wear custom pink jerseys in pre-game warm-ups, which will then be auctioned-off. Other auction items include an autographed soccer ball and two Rice game jerseys. Fans will also have an opportunity to pledge a donation for goals scored in the game, where the proceeds will then be donated to charity.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: The Rice Philharmonics, a Capella group, will perform the National Anthem before Friday's game.
HAIL SENIORS!: Sunday's game against Southern Miss has been designated as the Owls' annual Senior Day. Prior to the start of the 1 pm contest, Rice seniors Marie Hunnell, Annie Kadota, Nikki Storness and Hope Ward will be introduced with their families in special pregame ceremony.
QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2011 Rice soccer team features 16 letterwinners, including seven regular starters, from last season's team that went 8-8-4 and reached the Conference USA Tournament. A total of eight newcomers are on the squad, all of which are freshmen with elite club and high school experience. The Blue & Gray has four veteran seniors, led by Hope Ward in the midfield. Junior defender Amy Beger is a stalwart on the Owls' backline who earned all-region and conference honors last season.
HIGH R.P.I.: The NCAA released its latest Ratings Power Index (R.P.I.) on Oct. 12 and the Owls are ranked 32nd in the nation. Rice's R.P.I. was ranked 32nd in the country based on wins, strength of schedule, and opponents' strength of schedule. The R.P.I. is the main criteria used to pick at-large selections for the 64-team NCAA Tournament to play for the national championship. View the latest NCAA R.P.I. here.
RANKED IN THE REGION: Rice is ranked seventh in the Central Region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Rice debuted at No. 8 in the NSCAA's Central Region on Sept. 5 and held that spot for three weeks. The Blue & Gray zoomed up to fifth on Sept. 26 after blitzing C-USA rival UAB 4-0 and battling No. 9 ranked Memphis before falling by a narrow 1-0 margin. The Owls held the No. 5 spot again the following week (Oct. 3) before the No. 7 ranking on Oct. 10. The regional ranking is the Owls' first while under the direction of head coach Nicky Adams. View the latest NSCAA Central Region poll here.
HEAD COACH NICKY ADAMS: Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan promoted Nicky Adams to the Owls' head soccer coach on Nov. 15, 2010. Adams joined the Rice soccer staff in January of 2003 and was named associate head coach in 2006. She replaced former head coach Chris Huston (who started the Rice program in 2001) effective for the remainder of the 2010 schedule beginning with a home game against No. 9 BYU on Sept. 18. Adams, a former All-America soccer player and 2001 graduate of Texas A&M, has led the Owls to an 11-8-6 record since Sept. 18, 2010... She is assisted by coach John Adams (Cincinnati, 2003), who is in his second year with the team, Allison Martino (Texas A&M, 2008) who is in her first year at Rice, and Owl great Kate Edwards as the new student coach.
SIZZLING CZYZ: Amy Czyz has been sound-and-solid in 14 starts this season. So far the Rice rookie keeper has maintained an .804 save percentage and an 0.63 goals-against average. Czyz' goals-against average is ranked 22nd among the current NCAA leaders. The California native is one of only two freshmen in the nation's Top 22 for goals-against average.
PLAYING SOME `D': Credit Owl defenders for helping out their freshman goalkeeper. The foursome of all-conference honoree Amy Beger, former C-USA all-freshman honoree Hayley Williams, junior Lauren LaGro and sophomore Rachel Petmecky have combined to hold opponents to just 10.4 shots per game. That's not a lot of chances over a 90-minute contest. Yes, there are a lot of games left in the 2011 season, but for now that mark would be tied for the third-best in school history for keeping foes from taking shots. The school record for fewest shots allowed average is 9.4 set back in 2003. Stellar defense helped that Owl team win seven games in a row and reach the Championship Final of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
MORE ON SHOTS: Rice has done so well in limiting shots that the defense has actually made a big contribution in helping maintain possession and create shots. This season the Owls have out-shot their opponent by a ratio 1.6-to-1. The team's advantage in corner kicks meanwhile has been a steady 4-to-3.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Rally For 2-2 Tie On The Road At UTEP
EL PASO, Tex. - Sophomore midfielder Jessica Howard scored the tying goal with less than three minutes left in regulation, and after two overtime periods the Owls and UTEP soccer teams finished a Conference USA league game in a 2-2 tie Sunday afternoon (Oct. 9) on the road in El Paso, Tex... Rice exploded out of the starting gate and scored its second-fastest goal to start a game this season. In the fourth minute of the contest, Rice sent a free kick into traffic near the UTEP goal. Senior forward Hope Ward found junior Alex Burton, who converted on her first shot of the day for a 1-0 Owl lead. The goal was Burton's third of the year. Ward notched her third assist this season to move her into sole possession of second place on Rice's all time list for career assists with 19. She now is five back of tying the Rice career record of 24 assists set in 2007... Rice was in-front four minutes in to the contest, but there was a lot of soccer left and UTEP entered the match with a perfect 8-0-0 when playing at home. Rice head coach Nicky Adams alluded to that she has seen it before in soccer, where sometimes a team can score a little too early.... "We came out playing well, and Alex scored on a great shot," coach Adams said. "After we scored so early we dropped our level a little bit. We allowed UTEP to attack in some spaces. They capitalized on the team mistake of not closing down spaces. The two goals they scored were very similar, and directly related to what we weren't doing."... In the 24th minute, UTEP's Katie Dorman made a cross from the far wing and found Miner scoring leader Brittany Kindzierski. Kinzierski tied the contest with her sixth goal of the season, but the Miners weren't finished. Just seven minutes later, UTEP's Azia Nicholson played a low ball to Kindzierski who scored again for her second goal of the game. For as quickly as it seemed that Rice had taken the lead, the Owls now trailed 2-1... After the intermission Rice was on a mission to re-tie the score. On top of outshooting the Miners 7-6 in the second half, the Blue & Gray took an eye-opening seven corner kicks to UTEP's two... "In the second half we made some adjustments," coach Adams explained. "One of my favorite things about this team is that they do not give up, they battle. They never stopped fighting. They wanted it really, really, bad and kept going. They don't give up."... Down but not out, Rice made its move in the 88th minute. Jessica Howard dashed away with a loose ball, got free from defenders, and tapped the ball past the UTEP keeper. Her team-leading eighth goal of the season had knotted-up the game at 2-2. The score remained deadlocked after regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. Still battling into the second overtime, the Owls nearly tallied the game-winning golden-goal in the 106th minute when Hope Ward lined a shot attempt that hit a post... Soccer can also be a game of inches.... "The whole game was back-and-forth, both teams fought hard," Adams said. "It was getting late, and Hojo (Jessica Howard) scored a great goal to equalize it. In the overtime I thought we played really well. Hope hit the post in (the second) overtime. She has a never-die attitude and just kept working and working and working. (Sophomore) Britton Cartwright came off the bench and really filled a void for us in the defensive center-mid. She won the ball for us and then simplified the offense for us with her passes in the midfield.... "Our goal is to win, but we refused to lose and I am proud of the team," the head coach added. "These two conference games (including the C-USA match at Colorado College on Friday) are the hardest (weekend) road trips Conference USA has. Both sites are in altitude, but on very different surfaces from each other or any other team in our conference. It's a difficult weekend of soccer, but our girls adjusted, did the best they could and we picked up a point (for the tie)."... UTEP moved to 10-3-2 overall and 4-1-1 in the league. For Rice, now 8-4-2 on the season and 3-2-1 in C-USA action, the team has finished the most challenging part of its conference schedule with flying colors. In a span of four-straight C-USA road games over the last 10 days the Owls went 2-1-1 and are still a major factor in the conference standings.
100 RICE WINS: On Sept. 4 of this season the Rice soccer program recorded its 100th career victory with a 4-1 win over longtime rival Sam Houston State. Rice University began varsity soccer for the first time in 2001 and quickly reached the 100-win plateau in the 2011 season.
GAME-WINNING GOALS: Sophomore midfielder Jessica Howard enters the weekend ranked tied for 12th in the nation with four game-winning goals. The Rice single-season school record for game-winning goals is five, set by Caitlin Robbins in the C-USA championship season of 2005.
NEWS & NOTES:: The Owls (8-4-2) are off to their best start to a season since 2007 when that team began the year with an 9-3-2 ledger. The current 2011 squad has already matched the 2007 team's seven defensive shutouts the squad posted that year... In six league games the Blue & Gray have out-scored their C-USA opponents 9-4... Senior midfielder Hope Ward has moved into sole possession of second place on Rice's all-time list for career assists with 19. Ward now needs five more assists to tie the school record set during the 2007 season... On the offensive side Rice has been distributing the attack equally across the roster. In 14 games nine different Owls have scored goals, while 12 different players have all registered assists... Rice sophomore midfielder Jessica Howard entered the week tied for 16th in the nation in game-winning goals (4).
VS. THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: UCF is the No. 23 ranked team in the country according to SoccerAmerica.com... The Knights have the No. 25 RPI in the nation after defeating nationally-ranked San Diego on the road, as well as ranked foes Penn State and Washington State... In seven meetings between Rice and UCF dating back to 2005 when both schools joined Conference USA, the Owls have defeated UCF only one time (2-1 in overtime in 2008)... With 10 freshmen and 10 sophomores on the Southern Miss roster, the Golden Eagles are one of the youngest squads in C-USA. However, that didn't stop USM from going out and shutting out SEC power and state-rival Mississippi State last month. Rice leads the all-time series with USM 5-0-0.
BIG HOME CROWDS: The 1,481 fans that came to see the Rice-Houston game last season was the Owls' third-largest home soccer crowd in the program's history. Here's a closer look at Rice's big home crowds.
Rice's Largest Home Crowds Year Attn. Opponent 2001 1,752 Army 2001 1,487 Texas State 2010 1,481 Houston 2001 1,360 Houston 2005 1,276 Auburn 2005 1,273 UTEP 2005 1,087 Houston 2010 1,047 BYU
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.
OTHER C-USA ACTION: Conference USA's high-flying brand of soccer is in full-swing with league games this week. The C-USA weekend slate is as follows:
Friday, Oct. 14 Colorado College at UAB, 7 pm
East Carolina at Tulsa, 7 pm
Southern Miss at Houston, 7 pm
Marshall at SMU, 7 pm
UTEP at (6) Memphis, 7 pm
(23) UCF at Rice, 7 pm
Sunday, Oct. 16
Colorado College at (6) Memphis, 1 pm
(23) UCF at Houston, 1 pm
Marshall at Tulsa, 1 pm
Southern Miss at Rice, 1 pm
UTEP at UAB, 1 pm
East Carolina at SMU, 2 pm