Oct. 27, 2010
THIS WEEK'S GAME: The Rice soccer team returns home for a Conference USA & crosstown showdown this Friday night (Oct. 29). The Owls (8-8-2, 5-3-2) host rival Houston (11-4-3, 6-2-2) at 7 pm in the Rice Soccer Stadium. Bragging rights in the annual battle for the collegiate soccer city championship are at stake. Six Rice seniors making their final home appearance will be honored before the start of the match. The full schedule of this week's C-USA games appears below.
OWLS TO ASSIST GULF COAST REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER & TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: HOUSTON -- As if a game against the crosstown rival Houston Cougars wasn't already important enough, some significant charity work by the Rice Owls soccer team has raised the stakes for attending Friday night's home match even higher... Rice soccer has teamed with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to host a registration drive at its upcoming match vs. U.H. for potential bone marrow donors in order to benefit the young leukemia patients undergoing treatments at Texas Children's Hospital - a world-renown facility located just a block away from the Owls' home soccer field adjacent to the Texas Medical Center... Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center representatives will set up a registration drive at the Rice-Houston soccer game, an annual clash of crosstown rivals slated for a 7 pm start on Friday (Oct. 29). The Blood Center personnel will collect names of fans who want to volunteer as a potential bone marrow donor and answer questions about a relatively simple procedure that could save lives. The registration drive is only the first step in the donor identification process, with the procedure itself occurring much later. Identifying a proper match for bone marrow donors and their beneficiaries is a key part of the treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, often called A.L.L. or children's leukemia... Members of the Owls' soccer team have had first-hand experience of associating with the young patients at Texas Children's Hospital. Since 2007 Rice soccer players have made regular visits to T.C.H., interacting with the patients and their families in an attempt to spread good cheer and lift spirits. Friday's registration drive, at what is annually one of the team's biggest games of the year - the crosstown showdown and regular season finale with the rival Cougars - will feature two added fashion statements by the Rice soccer team to help create awareness for all their friends at Texas Children's. First the Owls will wear tee-shirts of various colors in Friday's pregame warm-ups that were individually designed by a different T.C.H. patient. Secondly, the team will wear a gold ribbon in support of children fighting cancer... Rice interim head coach Nicky Adams said a T.C.H. patient, Morgan LaRue, will get to join the team on the sidelines during the game. Adams had high praise for the team's charitable outreach efforts, all while preparing for its big home finale... "I am proud of our girls for their community service," Adams said. "They've come up with good-work like this for as long as there has been a Rice soccer program, and they've always done it all on their own. On Friday fans can now see a great soccer game and support the young patients and their families here in the Medical Center."
DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME: Rice and the University of Houston have both already qualified for the 2010 C-USA Championship to be held next week in Orlando, Fla. The seeding for the six spots in the annual tournament, and indeed the sixth and final spot itself, are still very much up for grabs. The Owls are in fifth place in the league standings with a total of 17 points and can do no worse than tie for fifth no matter what happens on the final weekend of the C-USA's regular season... Rice has already surpassed its conference win total from 2009 (4), and is just one victory away from matching its highest league win total in a single-season (6 set in 2003, and again in 2005 and 2008). The Owls could still tie for third in the conference standings, matching their best finish in the C-USA standings when the team tied for third in 2005.
CATCH THE GAME 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 Court Jackson (Hanszen '08) for the Rice call of the home soccer action. More information for watching Rice sports is at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).
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 six experienced seniors on the roster, including key spots such as forward Korey Taylor, midfielder Kate Edwards, and goalkeeper Catherine Fitzsimmons. The group may have a young backline playing on defense, but the rookie foursome has done very well in tough C-USA competition.
HAIL SENIORS!: Six Rice seniors will be honored before the start of the team's final home match against Houston. The senior honorees include Kate Edwards, Meghan Erkel, Catherine Fitzsimmons, Jordan Holloway, Elizabeth Nesbit and Korey Taylor.
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. She's now made 69 career starts to tie her for seventh place on the school's all-time list for starts. 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 (tied for 3rd all-time), third in career shots (168), and tied for sixth with five game-winning goals.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Owls are back on campus after playing a pair of C-USA games at Memphis and UAB last weekend. Playing at home has traditionally been good news. In the 92 games played on campus at the Soccer & Track Stadium, Rice owns an all-time record of 58-26-8 (.674)... This year the Blue & Gray is among the C-USA leaders in home attendance by averaging a steady 574 fans per game.
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.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Fall To UAB On The Road; Clinch Spot In C-USA Championship (Oct. 24)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Rice soccer dropped a narrow 1-0 Conference USA match to UAB Sunday afternoon at the Blazer Soccer Stadium in Birmingham, Ala., but there is bigger and better news as the Owls learned they had qualified for the league's postseason tournament where they will have a chance to play for the C-USA Championship and an automatic bid to NCAA Tournament... There's still a number of scenarios that could play out for seeding and the final spot in the annual C-USA tournament Nov. 3-7 in Orlando, Fla., but the Owls have mathematically clinched one of the coveted postseason bids no matter what. Even with the loss Sunday at UAB, the Owls are still in fifth place in the standings and can do no worse than tie for fifth place next week with just one team (UAB). In fact, Rice could still improve its seeding in the tournament with a win in next week's crosstown showdown against the University of Houston (Oct. 29 at 7 pm)... Sunday's action had all the makings of Rice improving its tournament seed on its own. Like in Friday's match against powerhouse Memphis that was determined by a lone penalty kick, the Owls played well and controlled the tempo against UAB. Rice out-shot the Blazers at home by a margin of 18-7, including just three shots-allowed in the second half. The Blue & Gray also held a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks. Despite the sound and solid effort, the Owls gave up a counter-attack in the game's 88th minute. Blazer junior Laura McCalla, one of the C-USA goal-leaders this season, scored her 12th goal of the year in the team's 18th game with just over two minutes left in regulation... For as pleased as Rice interim head coach Nicky Adams was with team locking-in its third trip to the C-USA Tournament since 2006, she still has her competitive and coaching side to her that won't let Sunday's result go away so easily... "Qualifying for the C-USA Tournament was one of our goals, and I am happy our program has accomplished that," Adams said. "Our result today is another matter. We were, at times, playing some of our best soccer. We had a lot of organized attacks and created chances (offensively). We had been on the attack again near the end of the game, but lost our focus on one sequence and allowed a good team to make a counter-attack where they scored... "There are a lot of things we'll be able to build on from this game," Adams added. "We'll learn that we need to finish what we start from the back line. We'll learn not to be complacent, and have a greater sense of urgency when we're in the final third. This is two pretty good road games we've played (this weekend) against good conference teams and we went 0-and-2. To lose one on a PK and one in the 88th minute is a pretty tough pill."... The Owls are now 8-8-2 on the season and in fifth place in the C-USA standings with 17 points from its 5-3-2 league record. UAB is now 8-8-2 on the year and 4-4-2 in conference for a total of 14 points. Rice's Amy Beger led all players with four shots, including three on-goal. Three other Owls all had at least two shots on-goal. Blazer keeper Kate Blankenship made 12 saves in the match.
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ON HOUSTON: Not only is Houston is the most improved team in the conference, the Cougars mathematically could still tie for the C-USA regular season championship this weekend. Houston tests opponents with a relentless 17.7 shots per game and allows just 8.7 shots the other way. There are two matches this year where Houston scored more than six goals on the way to a win. The team also has shut out opponents nine different times.
THE RICE-UH SERIES: Rice and Houston have met every year since the Owls started its soccer program in 2001. The Blue & Gray lead the all-time series 5-3-1, including a 2-1 home victory last season. Both teams are so keen to win this rivalry game that each meeting has been a closely contested battle. Seven of the nine Rice-UH soccer games have been determined by a narrow one goal margin. The only times there hasn't a one-goal difference in the score was the 2007 game held at Rice (2-0) and the 1-1 tie in 2005... If you don't think these two teams get physical, then consider there were more three times as many fouls called in last year's Rice-UH soccer game (28) than there were in the most-recent Bayou Bucket football game (9) - won by Rice 34-31 two weeks ago..
NOT AS COMMON AS YOU THINK: The Owls have played Houston every year since starting the soccer program in 2001 for a total of nine meetings, but the Cougars are not the team Rice has faced the most times. Rice's three most-played opponents are UTEP (13 times), SMU (12 times) and Tulsa (now 10 times including the game on Sept. 24).
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 17.9 shots per C-USA game... A year ago the Rice defense was last in the conference in shots allowed per game (15.5), but the Owls' starting backline (which features four players who had never played together until this year, including two true freshmen), has allowed an improved 12.1 shots per game. Freshman Rachel Petmecky is the latest rookie to build up her Division I resume by making six-straight C-USA starts on defense. Iron-Owl defenders Amy Beger, Lauren LaGro and Hayley Williams, and goalkeeper Catherine Fitzsimmons, played all 180 minutes last weekend at Memphis and UAB... Catherine Fitzsimmons moved into fourth place on Rice's career list for goalkeeper saves with 80... Senior forward Korey Taylor moved into a tie for 11th place on the school's all-time list for starts with 59. Taylor shares the team lead in shots with junior forward/midfielder Hope Ward. The duo both have set personal season highs with 44 attempts this season... 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 after both started 10 games. 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 to play their travel partner in the final weekend of the regular season. The league's slate is as follows:
Thursday (Oct. 28)
East Carolina at Marshall, 6 pm
UAB at Memphis, 7 pm
Tulsa at SMU, 7 pm
Friday (Oct. 29)
Houston at Rice, 7 pm
UCF at Southern Miss, 7 pm
UTEP at Colorado College, 8 pm