Just For Kicks, 2009 Edition
THIS WEEK: Fresh off a 2-1 televised home win over two-time Conference USA Tournament champion Memphis last Sunday (Oct. 11), the Rice soccer team hosts another pair of critical league games this weekend at the Owls' Soccer Stadium. Rice (3-9-2, 1-5-0) meets 16th-ranked UCF (10-3-1, 5-1-0) on Friday (Oct. 16) at 7 pm. The Blue & Gray then hosts Southern Miss on Sunday at 1 pm. The full schedule of C-USA games this weekend appears below.
BE EARLY TO GET A FREE "T": The first 100 fans at Friday night's game will get a free Rice soccer T-shirt.
CATCH THE GAMES LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: Both the soccer games this week are slated for a live broadcast on OwlVision All-Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches a live, play-by-play audio and video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet. The broadcast is live on the web, but it is also available in an archived format on the All-Access page. More All-Access information for soccer and other Rice sports are provided at the above link.
LIVE IN-GAME STATS: Live in-game statistics for Rice matches are posted on the world-wide web. At the start of the game go to the respective live stats link at the top of this page, or on the home page of RiceOwls.com, and follow the action.
TOUGH STRETCH: The Owls are finally at home, but in a particularly a tough stretch of games. The team had four-straight C-USA road games to begin league play only to return home to host a UAB squad that was tied for third in the conference in wins (8). The Owls then met C-USA power Memphis on Sunday, only to follow that game up with nationally-ranked UCF and Southern Miss. Mix in that the Owls had to face previously unbeaten New Mexico the week before conference began and it puts the current gauntlet of games in perspective.
QUICK ON THE OWLS: There are 17 experienced letterwinners on the roster, including nine returning starters from last season's team that finished 10-9-0 and hosted the Conference USA Tournament. The Owls' incoming class of freshmen was rated among the best in C-USA. In a preseason poll of the league's 12 head coaches, senior midfielder Shelley Wong was named to the 2009 C-USA Preseason Team. A closer look at the team's results shows all of the team's losses have been by a single goal and seven have been a narrow 1-0 margin.
HEAD COACH CHRIS HUSTON: Now with her ninth Rice team from the soccer program she started from scratch, Chris Huston has guided the Owls to an established spot alongside the more experienced teams in the state of Texas and the NCAA. Her won-loss record at Rice is 85-73-12. The two-time Western Athletic Conference coach of the year owns a career college coaching record of 107-89-14. The former standout at the University of North Carolina served as the head coach at the University of Houston for two years after starting that program in 1998. Huston owns a career C-USA regular season record of 37-26-3. She is aided by associate head coach Nicky Adams (Texas A&M, 2001; seventh year), assistant coach Sebastian Vecchio (Memphis, 2005; first year) and volunteer assistant coach Craig Waibel, a defender on the Houston Dynamo who is now in his fourth season with the Owls.
DID YOU KNOW? This is the Owls' ninth varsity soccer team since starting the program in 2001, but this is coach Huston's tenth year with Rice University. She was hired by the school to begin the soccer program a full year before the new team was slated to take the field.
THE OPPOSITION : UCF is 10-3-1 on the season and a league-leading 5-1-0 in C-USA action on the strength of a four-game win streak. The program has an eye-opening 34-6-4 regular season conference record since joining the league in 2005... Southern Miss is 4-8-0 overall and 0-4-0 in conference. Before facing Rice, the Golden Eagles play at the University of Houston on Friday night.
THE UCF SERIES: UCF leads the all-time series with Rice, 4-1-0. The Knights won each of the first three meetings between the schools and the most-recent clash, by a score of 2-1, in the first round of the C-USA Tournament held at Rice a year ago. UCF 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).
THE SOUTHERN MISS SERIES: Rice leads its series with Southern Miss 3-0. The Golden Eagles are making only their second appearance at the Rice Soccer Stadium and their first since the 2006 campaign when the Owls claimed a 3-0 win.
PREVIOUSLY: HOUSTON -- Junior midielder Kate Edwards scored a pair of goals and that was all the room junior goalkeeper Catherine Fitzsimmons needed to help pace the Rice soccer team to a 2-1 Conference USA victory over two-time defending C-USA Tournament champion Memphis Oct. 11 on at the Owls' Soccer Stadium. The game was taped for a television broadcast by CBS College Sports.
Edwards put Rice on the board to open the scoring early in the contest. In the game's 12th minute, Rice senior forward Erin Scott was fouled in the Memphis box to setup and Owl penalty kick. Edwards stepped-up to take the attempt and blasted a shot past the Tiger keeper for a 1-0 advantage.
A veteran Memphis team, which had won each of the last two C-USA Tournament titles to advance to consecutive NCAA Tournaments, came right back and tied the contest in the 28th minute. Tiger forward Averi Hallman served a long crossing pass to Ashley Berra at the keeper's box. Berra converted on a close-range shot for her team-leading tenth goal of the season and a 1-1 game.
The Tiger score was the only mark on a sound and solid first-start of the season in-goal for Fitzsimmons. The keeper from Ann Arbor, Mich., made a pair of saves in working a season-long 90 minutes of action. She picked-up the win for her first career decision after the Owls moved in front for good in the second half.
In the 60th minute, senior Ashley Lucas placed a free kick into traffic in front of the Tiger goal. Edwards opportunistically charged-in and headed the ball for a shot that found the back of the net for her second goal of the game and a new 2-1 Rice lead. The Memphis offense continued to press with shots in the second half, but Rice hung-on for the remainder of the contest. With only a little more than 15 minutes of playing time through the first 13 games this season, Fitzsimmons savored the experience.
"It's a great win and I'm happy to do my part," Fitzsimmons said. "Everybody was clicking and playing well together. We had Alexa (Coralli), Ashley (Lucas), Katelyn (Ostendorf) and (Stephanie) Crain all going all-out on defense today. That's four seniors on the backline and they all gave me a lot of help. This was such a fun opportunity because our new goalkeeping coach (Sebastian Vecchio) came from Memphis. He mainly coaches the keepers, but everybody wanted to show him that he made a good choice by coming to Rice."
The Owls had secured the league win for its first victory since Sept. 13. The team snapped a five-game losing streak in conference where each of the last five outcomes was determined by a single goal.
"It was a great effort, one that we needed against a great team," said Rice head coach Chris Huston. "The key was that we were able to get on the board early. We talked (to the team) that if we can get ahead early, then no matter what happens the game can be ours late. Our midfielders knew that was where the game was going to be won today, in the midfield. They really stepped-it up, especially Kate with two goals. Her second goal was phenomenal with a header off a free kick.
"We had a lot of great individual efforts," Huston added. "Our backline played well and I am proud of 'Cat.' today in goal. She played with a lot of confidence in her first start. The coaches have confidence in her, and I think her teammates do too."
For the game Memphis held a 12-7 lead in shots, but Rice had the advantage in shots-on-goal (5-3) and in corner kicks (6-5). The two-goal game by Edwards was the second of her career dating back almost exactly two years (vs. Houston on Oct.5, 2007). The standout from Westlake Village, Calif., is the first Owl to score twice in a game since Erin Scott had two goals at UCF last season.
FOR THE RECORD: The Owls have set two individual records this season. Against Marshall senior Erin Scott became Owls' new career statistical leader for shots. The standout forward from Richardson, Tex., currently leads the team in shots (29) and has the new school career record set at 194... On Sept. 6 Meghan Erkel set a new school record with 16 saves against regionally-ranked TCU. Her 16 saves broke the previous school record of 13 set on two occasions by Amanda Garrison, in the program's debut season of 2001 and equaled a year later in 2002.
GREAT SCOTT: Erin Scott is the school record-holder for shots and she is fast-approaching a number of career milestones at Rice, such as having...
* 21 career goals for second place all-time. Scott needs just one to tie the school record of 22.
* 16 career assists for second place all-time and needs eight to tie the school record of 24.
* 58 career points for third place all-time and needs six to tie the school record of 64.
Not only is the "Dangerous" Scott a great soccer player, she has recently been featured in Rice University's Tomorrow's Leaders and in the long-awaited Just For Kicks feature (link provided at the top of the page).
CAREER CLIMBING CORALLI: Senior defender Alexa Coralli made the 68th start in her career Sunday vs. Memphis, the seventh-most in school history. A senior from Plano, Tex., Coralli now needs only one more start to tie for sixth place at Rice in the category.
STEADY "EDDIE'S" STARTING STREAK: Sophomore midfielder Kate Edwards has been in the starting lineup for all 54 games Rice has played since she arrived on campus. Edwards' starting streak dates back to her freshman season of 2007. It's one of the longest streaks on campus, but NOT affiliated with Baker College!
"O" PLAYS "D": After an injury sidelined her almost all of last season, senior Katelyn Ostendorf has made up for lost time. She has played in 1301 of the team's 1313:12 minutes this season (99.1 percent). Long a defender, the versatile Ostendorf has also been moving forward as of late to help the offense.
TWO ALL-TOURNAMENT HONOREES: The duo of Erin Scott and Meghan Erkel were both honored for their play on Aug. 28-30 with selection to 2009 All-Milwaukee Cup Team. The All-Milwaukee Cup Team was selected by the head coaches of the four participating teams in the recent event, including UW-Milwaukee, Marquette, Michigan and Rice. Scott played 156 minutes in the two Milwaukee Cup games and led the Owls in shots. Erkel played all 180 minutes in-goal and made a total of 15 saves.
ROLL OUT THE BARROW: With her game-winning goal at Stephen F. Austin, freshman Julia Barrow became only the 11th player in school history to record a game-winning goal with her first career goal. Two Owl sophomores, Annie Kadota and Hope Ward, accomplished the feat as freshmen last season and Erin Scott did the same as a freshman in 2006.
SHOTS ON-GOAL: As a team Rice has maintained a .467 shots on-goal percentage this season. At the half-way point of the season its the fourth-highest total in program history.
SISTER ACT: Two new members this year's soccer team are following in the footsteps of their older sisters. Freshman midfielder Victoria Rellas is the younger sister of Jackie Rellas (2001-2004). Freshman goalkeeper Andie Obermeyer is the younger sister of Amber Obermeyer (2002-2003).
SOCCER ALUMNAE LUNCHEONS: A splendid time was had by all at the most-recent monthly luncheon of the Rice soccer alumnae. More than a dozen Owls joined their head coach, Chris Huston, to get caught-up with the latest goings-on. At the August meeting the alumnae got to meet new assistant coach Sebastian Vecchio, who is working with the goalkeepers this season. If you are a Rice soccer letterwinner and would like to attend a future monthly luncheon, contact the pulchritudinous Owl duo of Ashley Anderson and/or Kelly Brolan for more details.
Email Ashley Anderson
Email Kelly Brolan
View some event photos
JUST FOR KICKS: Fans will once again have a chance to get some extra insight to the Rice soccer team via the Internet. 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.
WONG NAMED PRESEASON ALL-CONFERNCE: Senior Shelley Wong was named to the 2009 Conference USA preseason team. The senior midfielder from Virginia Beach, Va., is one of 12 players named to the C-USA preseason team selected by the league's 12 head coaches. A year ago Wong earned first team all-conference honors and was twice selected as the C-USA offensive player of the week. The veteran led the Owls and tied for second in the conference with nine goals scored. She scored two goals in a game on three different occasions to help lead Rice to wins over Tulsa, Marshall and Texas-San Antonio. Wong rarely came out of a game for the Blue & Gray, playing 90 or more minutes nine times.
BEGER SIDELINED: Sophomore defender/forward Amy Beger has been sidelined with an injury she suffered in the off-season.
OTHER C-USA ACTION: Conference USA league games are in full-swing this weekend. The upcoming C-USA slate is as follows...
Friday (Oct. 16)
East Carolina at Colorado College, 3 pm
Southern Miss at Houston, 7 pm
SMU at Memphis, 7 pm
(16) UCF at Rice, 7 pm
Tulsa at UAB, 7 pm
Marshall at UTEP, 8 pm
Sunday (Oct. 18)
(16) UCF at Houston, 1 pm
East Carolina at UTEP, 1 pm
Tulsa at Memphis, 1 pm
Southern Miss at Rice, 1 pm
SMU at UAB, 2 pm
Marshall at Colorado College, 3 pm
FOUR FUN FACTS: 1) Since 2000, there have been four seasons (2000, 2002, 2006, 2007) where the sixth place team in the conference finished in that spot by earning as few as 11 points in the final C-USA standings.
2) In seven of the eight completed seasons since 2000, 12 points was enough to earn the sixth seed in the conference tournament.
3) In 2005, the first year Rice joined the league, the sixth place team needed only nine points for that seed in the postseason tournament. It is tied for the lowest total since 1996 (12 full years).
4) Rice already has three points and still has five league games remaining (two points are awarded for a win and one for a tie).