CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On the eve of the 2014 Conference USA Soccer Championship to be held in Charlotte, NC, Rice's Nicky Adams has been named the C-USA Coach of the Year while senior Quinny Truong and junior Lauren Hughes were tabbed for two of the league's highest individual honors, the conference office announced on Tuesday (Nov. 4).
The 2014 C-USA honorees were selected on a vote of the league's 14 head coaches and announced just one day before the week-long conference tournament is set to begin on Wednesday (Nov. 5). Joining Adams with the very highest of the annual C-USA honors were two of her star players in Hughes as the league's Offensive Player of the Year and Truong as the Midfielder of the Year. Florida Atlantic standout Olivia Mbala was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and Charlotte's Martha Thomas was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year.
On C-USA's version of election day it was Rice in a landslide victory. The C-USA coaches collectively voted a total of eight Owl players to all-conference status on either the First, Second, Third or All-Freshman Teams. Only one other school (UTEP) had as many as five different all-league honorees. Charlotte meanwhile had four players earn five all-conference awards.
Joining Hughes and Truong on the C-USA First Team was junior forward Holly Hargreaves. All three repeated as first team-conference selections in 2014 after earning the same honor a year ago. Sophomore defender Jenny Fichera was named to the C-USA Second Team. The senior duo of goalkeeper Amy Czyz and defender Ashton Geisendorff were tabbed Third Team all-conference honorees. Rice rookies Samantha Chaiken and Mary Claire Danilevics were named to the league's 11-player All-Freshman squad.
The eight all-conference honorees are all trained under the direction of coach Adams. Now in her fourth full season at the helm of the program, Adams guided Rice soccer to an 11-3-3 overall record and to the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament after posting a 7-2-1 C-USA ledger. Earlier this year her Owls were receiving votes in a national Top 25 poll after going undefeated (2-0-1) in three-consecutive games against SEC opponents LSU, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. By contrast Rice's three losses this season were all by a single goal scored in overtime. A native of El Paso and former collegiate All-American at Texas A&M who went on to play professionally, Adams owns a career coaching record of 44-29-17.
"I am so very proud of this team this year," coach Adams said. "The amount of players recognized on these all conference teams shows how highly-respected each of them are by the coaches in this league. Quinny not only has had a solid 2014 year but her entire career has been amazing. She is completely deserving of repeating as first team all-conference and receiving midfielder of the year. Lauren and Holly have continued to prove their offensive abilities in C-USA and to repeat again as first-teamers is special. Lauren has had her best year yet and deserves being named offensive player of the year.
"Jen not only has been a staple on our backline but this year has provided an offensive spark with her (4) goals and (5) assists," coach Adams explained. "This has been both Amy's and Ashton's best year. They have both been consistent and have been great leaders in the back for us. I am so happy they have been recognized for their play this year. Samantha and Mary Claire have started off their career with a bang and deserve being recognized on the all-freshman team. Sam has started every game of her freshman campaign and has made a huge impact in our midfield. M.C. has contributed greatly on our backline.
"I am honored to be chosen coach of the year by my colleagues," she said. "This has been a very special year and we are excited for this upcoming C-USA Tournament. Our assistant coaches, Allison Martino and Brandon Gwin, have been instrumental in the success of this program. Their love for this team and dedication is amazing. I am so thankful for everything they do for this program and players. They both are unbelievable coaches."
The Rice soccer team is next in action against Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the opening game of the C-USA Championship. Start time against the Hilltoppers is set for 10 am (Central Time) at Transamerica Field in Charlotte, N.C.
The league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is on the line at the week-long, eight-team, single-elimination event. The tournament's championship final is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 1 pm (Central), and slated for a live television broadcast by FOX Sports Net. A full listing of the 2014 C-USA Soccer All-Conference honorees is as follows.
Offensive Player of the Year - Lauren Hughes, Rice
Defensive Player of the Year - Olivia MBala, Florida Atlantic
Midfielder of the Year - Quinny Truong, Rice
Freshman of the Year - Martha Thomas, Charlotte
Coach of the Year - Nicky Adams, Rice
First Team All-Conference:
F: Holly Hargreaves, Rice
F: Rachel Holden, North Texas
F: Lauren Hughes, Rice
MF: Kelly Culicerto, Marshall
MF: Aleah Davis, UTEP
MF: Karla Pineda, North Texas
MF: Quinny Truong, Rice
D: Hannah Asuchak, UTEP
D: Taylor Dulaney, Charlotte
D: Olivia MBala, Florida Atlantic
GK: Sarah Dilling, UTEP
Second Team All-Conference
F: Claire Emslie, Florida Atlantic
F: Chelsea Leiva, FIU
F: Kathryn Sloan, Louisiana Tech
F: Martha Thomas, Charlotte
MF: Sydney Arnold, Marshall
MF: Amanda Jones, Charlotte
MF: Morgan Key-Adams, UAB
D: Mary Catherine Combs, UAB
D: Jenny Fichera, Rice
D: Marie Egan, FIU
GK: Jackie Kerestine, North Texas
Third Team All-Conference
F: Angela Cutaia, UTEP
F: Jessie Klamut, Old Dominion
F: Ashleigh Shim, FIU
F: Grace Summers, Middle Tennessee
MF: Angie Lai, Middle Tennessee
MF: Donya Salomon-Ali, Louisiana Tech
MF: Sara Trexler, Charlotte
D: Casey Adkins, Southern Miss
D: Ashton Geisendorff, Rice
D: Natalie Johnson, Old Dominion
GK: Amy Czyz, Rice
Martha Thomas, F, Charlotte
Nevena Stojakovic, GK, FIU
Asta Arnadottir, MF, Florida Atlantic
Hildur Hauksdottir, MF, Florida Atlantic
Peyton McCollum, F, Middle Tennessee
Madison Hogan, F, Old Dominion
Samantha Chaiken, MF, Rice
Mary Claire Danilevics, D, Rice
Amy Brewer, D, UAB
Sydney Rapp, D, UTEP
Allison Leone, GK, WKU