Oct. 21, 2010
THIS WEEK'S GAMES: The Rice soccer team, 8-6-2 overall and tied for second place in the Conference USA standings with a 5-1-2 league record, is back on the road for two C-USA games this weekend. The Owls visit conference rivals Memphis and UAB on Oct. 22 & Oct. 24, respectively. Start time for Friday's game at Memphis is slated for 7 pm. Sunday's match with UAB begins at 1 pm (all times Central).
TRAVELING OWLS: With two more road games this weekend the Owls will have played four of their last six matches away from home. Rice has defeated only one of six opponents on its home field this season. The team also has one road tie. The Blue & Gray beat the University of San Francisco in a game played in the Bay Area of California, but the match was held at the Cal campus in Berkeley and is officially considered a neutral site.
THE DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME: The Race for the Conference USA regular season championship and one of just six coveted spots in the annual C-USA Tournament is still very much up for grabs. The Owls are tied for second place in the league standings with a total of 17 points, just two points from first place but also holding a narrow lead on a host of tournament-hungry teams... Rice has already surpassed its conference win total from 2009 (4), and is just one victory 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.
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).
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. The group may have a young backline playing on defense, but the rookie foursome has done very well in tough C-USA games.
EDWARDS RETURNS TO ACTION: The Owls received a huge lift for the remaining games of the season when senior midfielder Kate Edwards returned to action on Oct. 10 after missing the previous seven games with an injury. Prior to a Sept. 10 injury Edwards had started every game in her Rice career, a total of 65-straight dating back to her freshman season of 2007 for the eighth-longest total in school history. The Westlake Village, Calif., native is currently the team leader in goals (4) and is the program's active leader in career goals with 20 (3rd all-time), third in career shots (165), and tied for sixth with five in game-winning goals.
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 5-2-2 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.
CONFERENCE STARTS: Rice currently has its second-best conference record through eight league games in school history. Only the Western Athletic Conference team of 2003 has posted a better mark (6-2-0) than the current squad. Here's a closer look at the Owls' best conference starts.
|RICE RICE RICE|
|Year||Six Games||Of note/Finish|
|2003||6-2-0||finished second in WAC|
|2010||5-1-2||currently tied for in C-USA|
|2004, 2005 & 2007||5-2-1||won C-USA Tourney/NCAA bid in `05|
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Fall To East Carolina 2-1 At Home (Oct. 17)
HOUSTON -- Senior Kate Edwards' goal in the 86th minute gave the Rice soccer team a glimpse of another possible late rally, but visiting East Carolina hung on for a 2-1 Conference USA win over the Owls Sunday afternoon at the Rice Soccer Stadium in Houston... With the team's first conference loss in eight league matches, the Owls dropped from sole possession of first place in the C-USA standings into a three-way tie for second along with Memphis and UCF. All three teams are deadlocked with identical 5-1-2 C-USA records with each having three league matches left on the schedule over the next two weeks... "It was a tough weekend for us," said Rice interim head coach Nicky Adams. "We had to go 110 minutes with Marshall to get a tie Friday night, and you could see that today. We were not at our sharpest. We made two major mistakes on the back line and ECU capitalized. That was crucial. When we are tired on Sunday our game management needs to be a little bit better. Our decision-making on the ball individually needs to be a little bit better."... East Carolina jumped on the scoreboard early in the contest. In the third minute ECU junior forward Kimmy Cummings converted a deflection floating free in the Rice keeper's box for a shot to the back of the Owl net. Cummings' third goal of the season provided a 1-0 margin for the remainder of the period despite Rice holding a 13-6 advantage in shots and a 5-0 lead in corner kicks for the half... The Pirates extended the margin to 2-0 with a goal in the second half. In the 52nd minute sophomore Hali Oughton launched a long kick that bounced free past the Rice defenders. Junior Amanda Malkiewics sprinted-in, took possession of the ball and hit a shot from the right wing for her sixth goal of the year... Down but not out, the Owls continued to press on the offensive side. In the 86th minute, sophomore Lauren LaGro send a free kick into traffic just outside the ECU keeper's box. Rice's Hope Ward deflected toward a charging Kate Edwards, who headed the ball in to the left side of the goal. It was Edwards' fourth goal of the season and the 20th of her collegiate career, tying her for the third-highest career goals total in school history. The Owls had missed her for seven matches before her recent return to action. Coach Adams sees the big picture for Edwards' return in the weeks ahead... "It's always great for Kate to get back on the field and score a great goal for us," Adams said. "I think that is definitely going to help her momentum. When things don't go our way we are versatile enough to able to change some things up and put some numbers forward. We needed Kate today and it just shows we're going to keep fighting no matter what the score is or how much time is left."... Time was winding down but Rice still wanted one more, and almost had the game-tying shot. In the 88th minute senior Jordan Holloway made a body-sacrificing dive to attempt a header on a line-drive centering pass in front of the goal, but the ball was just out of her reach. The Blue & Gray finished the game with 17 shots, including eight on-goal. Both goalkeepers, Catherine Fitzsimmons (Rice) and Christiane Cordero (ECU) finished the contest with seven saves... Rice dropped to 8-6-2 overall and 5-1-2 in conference. East Carolina improved to 8-7-1 on the season and 3-4-1 in C-USA action. The Owls return to the road for their next two matches on Oct. 22 & 24 at Memphis and UAB, respectively. Rice then returns home to close out the regular season against crosstown rival, and C-USA leading, Houston on Oct. 29... "Here we go right back on the road again, and these two games are really important," Adams added. "We'll have to be at our best on Friday night to be able to play with Memphis. UAB is just as important right after that .The girls know what a huge weekend this will be on the road. We'll definitely get to work this week in practice."
ON MEMPHIS: After beating the previous hottest team in the conference (SMU), Memphis has now taken on that mantle. The Tigers are unbeaten in their last six games (4-0-2) and have surrendered only one goal in their last five games. Memphis has the widest differential of shots-taken (18.1) to shots allowed (9.1), and has four players who have scored four or more goals.
THE MEMPHIS SERIES: Memphis leads the all-time series with Rice 2-1-1, but three decisions have been by a single goal and two of the four games have gone into double-overtime. The Owls claimed a 2-1 home victory in 2009 and the teams tied, 1-1, in Houston in 2007. Memphis logged a 4-3 home win over the Owls in 2006 and a 1-0 victory in 2008. Memphis was the final C-USA opponent the Owls had yet to play after joining the league back in July 2005.
ON UAB: Not only will UAB be looking forward to playing at home for the first time in two weeks, the Blazers showcase two of the most dangerous goal-scoring threats in Conference USA. The junior tandem of Lara McCalla and Carolyn Polcari have so far combined for 17 goals and 84 shots. The Blazer host C-USA leader Houston before meeting the Owls on Sunday.
THE UAB SERIES: The Rice-UAB series is deadlocked at 3-3-0, with the Blazers winning each of the last two meetings. The teams met for the first time in 2005 in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament hosted by Rice. The Owls won that match 1-0 to advance to the semifinals. UAB got its revenge over the Blue & Gray with a 3-1 victory in Birmingham, Ala., in 2006. Rice claimed a 2-1 regular season home decision in 2007 before a 1-0 win in the C-USA Tournament in El Paso a month later. UAB followed-up a 5-1 regular season victory in Birmingham in 2008 with a 2-1 win at Rice last season.
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 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 an improved 12.8 shots per game... The Owl forward tandem of senior Korey Taylor and junior Hope Ward have both exceeded their previous highs for shots in a single season. Taylor leads the team with 41 shots while Ward is second with 40... Senior midfielder Elizabeth Nesbit scored the first goal of her collegiate career in her first start of the season, and only her fifth career start in the last four years, to tie the Oct. 10 game vs. No. 19 ranked UCF. It was Nesbit's first goal in her 45 Division I games-played.
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... Rice has averaged 574 fans for its ten home games.
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 had missed the play of Kate Edwards for seven games but that's not all the Owls have had to overcome. Senior goalkeeper Meghan Erkel and junior midfielder Nikki Storness have been sidelined with injuries. 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: It's crunch time and the C-USA teams are lining up for key natch-ups. The league's weekend slate is as follows:
Friday (Oct. 22)
SMU at Southern Miss, 4 pm
Colorado College at Marshall, 6 pm
UTEP at East Carolina, 6 pm
Tulsa at UCF, 6 pm
Houston at UAB, 7 pm
Rice at Memphis, 7 pm
Sunday (Oct. 24)
Colorado College at East Carolina, 11 am
UTEP at Marshall, 11 am
SMU at UCF, Noon
Houston at Memphis, 1 pm
Rice at UAB, 1 pm
Tulsa at Southern Miss, 1 pm