Owls Meet SMU Wednesday In C-USA First Round Action
Start Time With Mustangs Set For 2:30 PM
Nov. 1, 2011
THIS WEEK: The Rice soccer team, 9-7-3 on the season and 4-5-1 in Conference USA, is back on the road this week to play in the 2011 C-USA Women's Soccer Championship Nov. 2-6 in Memphis, Tenn. The Owls are seeded sixth in the tournament and face third-seed SMU (11-7-1, 7-3-1) at 2:30 pm in Wednesday's opening round. The top eight teams in the conference are in Memphis competing in the single-elimination event where the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is at stake. Action begins with four quarterfinal games on Wednesday, resumes with two semifinal games on Friday (5 pm and 7:30 pm) and concludes with the championship final on Nov. 6 at 1 pm. The Championship Central web page, full of helpful tournament information, appears at the above link.
CATCH THE GAMES LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: Rice's games in the C-USA Championship 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. All the information about watching Rice sports on-line is available at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).
LIVE IN-GAME STATS: Live in-game statistics for all Rice 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 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.
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 14-11-7 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.
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Rice has qualified for its conference tournament in nine of the 11 years since it started the program in 2001. The team has reached the semifinals in all but two of the eight tournaments so far... Rice and SMU tied 0-0 in a quarterfinals match in the Owls' previous C-USA Tournament a year ago in 2010 (with SMU advancing to the semifinals only after a shootout - the match is officially recorded as a tie for both teams)... The Blue & Gray was defeated by UCF, 2-1, in the first round of the C-USA Tournament in 2008... The 2002 Rice team, which hosted the Western Athletics Conference Tournament, was seeded sixth and battled its way to the semifinals... The Owls reached the Western Athletic Conference championship game in 2003 and 2004 before winning the C-USA Championship in 2005... The Blue & Gray was twice seeded as high as second in its conference tourney... Rice has served as the host of its conference tournament three times.
Rice's Conference Tournament Results Year Seed Finish 2001 2 t 3rd 2002 6 t 3rd 2003 3 2nd 2004 2 2nd 2005 3 1st 2006 DNQ --- 2007 4 t 3rd 2008 6 t 5th 2009 DNQ --- 2010 5 t 5th 2011 6
DID YOU KNOW? Rice has not faced a team in the C-USA Tournament other than SMU since 2008. The Mustangs were Rice's opening round opponent in 2010 and the Owls did not reach the postseason in 2009. In 2008 Rice fell to national power UCF, 2-1, in its opening round game.
THE RICE-SMU SERIES: Rice has faced SMU a total of 14 times since 2001, tied for the most number of times the Owls have played any opponent. Wednesday's meeting is the 15th in the series and that will lift the Mustangs over UTEP on Rice's most-played opponents list. The Blue & Gray is just 4-9-1 against SMU, but 2-0-1 in the last three meetings - including a 1-0 victory over the Ponies in Dallas on Sept. 30. The only two other times Rice and SMU have played at a neutral setting was last year in Orlando and in Honolulu in 2004.
HOWARD LEADS FOUR OWLS IN ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Rice soccer standouts Jessica Howard and Lauren LaGro, along with freshmen stars Amy Czyz and Quinney Truong, earned all-Conference USA honors for the 2011 season the league office announced Tuesday (Nov. 1) in Memphis, Tenn.
The C-USA honorees were selected on a vote of the 12 head coaches and announced on the eve of the annual conference tournament. Jessica Howard was named first team all-conference while LaGro was selected to the C-USA second team. Czyz and Truong were named to both the C-USA third team and the league's All-Freshman squad.
Jessica Howard is a sophomore who ranks among the C-USA statistical leaders in goals, points (18), shots (53) and game-winning goals (4). Recognized as a C-USA all-freshman honoree last season, Howard's improved play in the attacking third constantly put opposing defenses under pressure with a .436 shots-on-goal percentage. The Dallas native registered five or more shots in a game six different times this season. She leads the Owls in scoring with eight goals, including four game-winning goals, while both of her assists were on game-winning goals against C-USA foes. Howard has played 80 or more minutes in a game eight times and earlier this season she was named the C-USA Player of the Week.
LaGro is a starting defender who has been a fixture on the backline, including all 19 games this season and the last 39 Rice games in a row. The junior from Dallas rarely comes off the field, leading the team in 1,758 minutes played that is 97.7 percent of the Owls' total time. LaGro has worked 90 or more defensive minutes 17 times, and helped the Rice defenders hold opposing teams to just 11.2 shots per game this season. Though primarily a defender, she also showed her versatility this season by scoring two goals and recording a pair of assists.
The Owls' true freshmen duo of Quinney Truong and Amy Czyz have both made an immediate impact in their first season of Division I soccer. Czyz has started in-goal every game and is the only C-USA player named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's list of the Top 100 Freshmen in The Nation announced earlier this week. The Danville, Calif., native owns six complete-game shutouts and ranks second in C-USA, and among the NCAA leaders, with an 0.77 goals-against average. Two weeks ago she posted a single-game career-best six saves on the road at Marshall. Czyz has played 1,752 minutes in goal, which is all but 47 minutes of the team's total time.
Truong has worked her way into 18 starting assignments in her debut college season. A former club and prep star from Fort Worth, Tex., Truong is sixth on the team with 1,526 minutes played (84.8 percent of the team's total time). She scored the game-winning goal on the road at longtime rival SMU and assisted on goals in home games vs. UAB, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky. Truong has taken 28 shots and maintained a steady .500 shots-on-goal percentage.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Get The Point In 1-1 Tie At U.H.
HOUSTON - Rice junior midfielder Julia Barrow scored the game-tying goal late in the first half and the Owls and University of Houston soccer teams went on to finish in a 1-1 tie Friday night across town at Robertson Stadium. The tie earned both teams a single point in the final C-USA standings, which is all the Owls needed.
Rice battled for a win against the crosstown rival Cougars, out-shooting UH 12-11 and holding a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks. This time there is a silver lining in a stalemate. With the tie (and based on how other league game played out late Friday night in El Paso and at Tulsa) the Owls clinched the No. 6 seed in next week's C-USA Championship Tournament in Memphis, Tenn. The Blue & Gray finished the regular season with 14 points to tie both UTEP and Tulsa for sixth place in the final C-USA standings. Rice went 1-0-1 in the regular season against those two teams and next meets No. 3 seed SMU on Nov. 2 (Wed.) in Memphis at 2:30 pm.
Rice had to rally for the C-USA standing's all-important point on Friday. Houston struck first with a goal in the 25th minute by Alexis Weaver after a pass from Kylie Cook.
Down but not out, Rice answered with the equalizer with the less than seven minutes remaining before the half. Senior Hope Ward set up a corner kick and found Julia Barrow past some traffic clustered at the keeper's box. Though Barrow had been sidelined the last three weeks with an injury, the Dallas native came up big in her return to action. She lined a header to the back of the Cougar net for her first goal of the season that knotted the game up at 1-1.
Goalkeepers for both teams made the score stand for the rest of the first half, the final 45 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods. Rice freshman keeper Amy Czyz finished the night with five saves, including a clutch stop in the second overtime.
"Any time Rice and Houston meet, it doesn't matter what the teams have done before, it is always a physical battle," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "All we had to do was get a tie, and our girls battled and came from behind. It's a remarkable thing to do when both teams had their backs to the wall. I'm excited that we get another opportunity to extend the season for (Rice's) seniors.
"Julia was the game-changer to day," coach Adams added. "Not only did she win balls in the air, she calmed-us down in the midfield. For her to sit sidelined on the bench and watch her teammates battle the last three weeks, and then come in clutch when it mattered the most, is amazing. I am so glad she is our captain and an amazing, amazing, kid."
Rice moved to 9-7-3 on the season and 4-5-2 in C-USA play. Houston finished the year with a 6-11-2 overall record and 3-6-2 ledger in the league.
SIZZLING CZYZ: Amy Czyz has been sound-and-solid in 19 starts this season. So far the Rice rookie keeper has maintained a .786 save percentage and an 0.77 goals-against average. Czyz' goals-against average is ranked 43rd among the current NCAA leaders. The California native is one of only four freshmen in the nation's Top 45 for goals-against average.
PLAYING SOME `D': Credit Owl defenders for helping out their freshman goalkeeper. The primary defensive crew consisting of all-conference honoree Lauren LaGro, former C-USA all-freshman honoree Hayley Williams, junior Amy Beger and sophomores Rachel Petmecky and Alexandra Trenary have combined to hold opponents to just 11.2 shots per game. That's not a lot of chances over a 90-minute contest, and that mark would be the fifth-best in school history for preventing 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 the offense maintain possession and create shots. This season the Owls have out-shot their opponent by a ratio 1.4-to-1. The team's advantage in corner kicks meanwhile has been 96-81, a +15 for 19 games.
WHEN FIRST GOALS ARE ALSO GAME-WINNERS: True freshman Lauren Busansky scored her first career Rice goal on Oct. 16 vs. Southern Miss, and it officially proved to be the game-winning goal. Busansky became only the 15th player in school history, and the second Owl this season, to record a game-winning goal with her first career goal... On Sept. 30 freshman Quinney Truong, became the 14th Owl to make her debut goal the game-winner, the score that pushed Rice past SMU 1-0 on the road in Dallas... The other current Owls on the team who have made their first goal the game-winning score are: Hayley Williams (Oct. 1, 2010) vs. UTEP; Jessica Howard (Aug. 22, 2010) vs. Stephen F. Austin; Julia Barrow (Sept. 4, 2009) at Stephen F. Austin; Annie Kadota (Aug. 22, 2008) vs. Sam Houston State.
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.
NEWS & NOTES:: The Owls' nine wins is the most for the program in three years (2008)... The current 2011 squad has already matched the 2007 team's seven defensive shutouts the squad posted that year... Junior midfielder Julia Barrow left the Oct. 14 game against nationally-ranked UCF with an injury and on Oct. 16 the Hermosa Beach, Calif., saw her streak of 42-consecutive starts come to an end... Lauren Busansky started in the midfield in Barrow's place and proceeded to assist on a goal in the second minute of the game. Busansky then went on to score her first two goals in the game. She finished the day with five points, the most by an Owl in three years and tied for the sixth-highest single point total in school history... In 11 league games the Blue & Gray have out-scored C-USA opponents 14-11... Senior midfielder Hope Ward is in sole possession of second place on Rice's all-time list for career assists with 20. Ward now needs four 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 16 games 11 different Owls have scored goals, while 12 different players have all registered assists.
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.