Head Coach Nicky Adams previews the Owls' upcoming NCAA Tournament match in the above video.
Rice Soccer at No. 23 Baylor: Nov. 10 (Fri.), 5 pm at Betty Lou Mays Soccer Complex in Waco, Texas
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By: John Sullivan, Rice Athletics (email@example.com)
THIS WEEK: The Conference USA regular season champion Rice soccer team, 12-3-2 overall and unbeaten in league play with a 9-0-1 C-USA record, has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament. Rice plays at 2017 Big 12 champion Baylor in first round action scheduled for Friday, Nov. 10. Start time against the No. 23 ranked Bears (13-5-2 overall) is set for 5 pm at the Betty Lou Mays Soccer Complex in Waco.
BACK IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: The Owls are making their fourth-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament, and all have been in the state of Texas. Rice most recently played in the 2014 NCAA's in Austin after winning an automatic bid as the C-USA tournament champion. In 2005 the Owls faced the Cal Bears in the four-team Austin regional. In its NCAA Tournament debut in 2004 the Blue & Gray played Illinois in College Station after making the field as an at-large team with a school record 14 wins.
2017 C-USA CHAMPIONS: Soon after the Rice Soccer team defeated Charlotte 1-0 on Oct. 22 on the road in North Carolina, the Owls officially clinched the 2017 C-USA regular season championship a few minutes later as other league matches became final. It is the first time for Rice Soccer to win an outright regular season conference championship. In 2012 the Owls shared the C-USA regular season crown with then league member Colorado College. The Blue & Gray have also won the C-USA Tournament in both 2005 and 2014 (which are also league championships but separate from the regular season). The C-USA regular season standings are determined by getting three points for a win and one point for a tie. Rice amassed 28 points from its nine conference wins and one tie, a comfortable margin ahead of a talented North Texas side (23 points) that went on to win the 2017 C-USA Tournament and earn a spot in the current NCAA 64-team field.
COACH'S CORNER: Rice soccer is under the direction of head coach Nicky Adams, who is in her seventh full year at the helm of the program. Adams was named the C-USA Coach of the Year in 2017 for a sensational season at the helm of the program. It is her second time to earn that honor (2014) from her coaching peers in the league… Adams owns a career record of 80-45-22. A former pro player and All-America honoree while playing at Texas A&M, she was inducted into her alma mater's Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall of 2015. Adams' coaching staff includes Courtney Sirmans in her third year with the program, and Brenton Saylor in his second year with the Owls.
NATIONAL RANKING: The Owls received 22 points in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll. On Oct. 24 Rice was ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation in the same poll. View the full United Coaches national poll here.
HIGH R.P.I.: If you have disdain for the politics of the various national and regional polls, and prefer the cold, hard, math of the NCAA’s rating power index, then note that Rice’s Nov. 5 RPI was listed as No. 36 in the nation. View the NCAA’s latest RPI here. The Owls are also ranked No. 7 in the NCAA in scoring (2.59 goals p/g) and 14th in Shots-on-Goal with 8.24 s.o.g. per game.
DOUBLE-DIGIT "W's": Rice has reached the double-digit win plateau for the fourth straight year. The Owls have won at least ten matches in six of the last seven seasons under head coach Nicky Adams. The current 12-win tally is tied for the fourth-most in a single season of Rice soccer. On two occasions the Owls won a school record 14 matches, most recently in 2014.
INDIVIDUAL HONORS: In an Oct. 31/Halloween announcement that was all treats and no tricks, Rice soccer earned a host of C-USA postseason honors -- including three of the league's major awards with Samantha Chaiken selected as the C-USA Midfielder of the Year, Maya Hoyer as the Goalkeeper of the Year, and Nicky Adams as the Coach of the Year… The Owls amassed a lengthy 2017 honors list that was determined by a vote of the 14 C-USA head coaches. Senior Nia Stallings and junior Annie Walker joined Chaiken on the C-USA First Team. Hoyer was named to the C-USA Second Team. Sophomore Louise Stephens and freshman Rebecca Keane were named to the C-USA Third Team, with Keane was also named to the league's 14-player All-Freshman squad… Rice's six all-conference honorees all trained under the direction of coach Adams, who her peers tabbed as Coach of the Year for the second time.
ACADEMIC ACCOLADES: Owls Mallory Radtke, Nia Stallings, Louise Stephens and Marissa Topolski have all been named to the 2017 Conference USA Women's Soccer All-Academic Team Presented by InTouch Credit Union, the league office announced on Nov. 2. The C-USA office honored a total of 23 student-athletes for women's soccer with two All-Academic teams. The four Rice selections juggled the rigors of playing for the Owls’ nationally-ranked soccer program and succeeding in the University’s challenging curriculum to be named to the C-USA All-Academic Second Team… Radtke maintained a 3.62 grade point average majoring in Kinesiology/Sport Management. On the field the senior defender from Leewood, Kansas, started all 17 matches and ranked among the team leaders in minutes played… Stallings owns a 3.2 grade point average as a Mathematics major. The dynamic senior midfielder shared the Rice team lead with eight goals and was second on the squad with seven assists… Stephens, a sophomore defender from Houston, has not yet declared a major but has a 3.89 grade point average. In her first season as a starter Stephens rarely came off the field and was part of an Owl backline than held opponents to just 10.1 shots per game… Topolski maintained a 3.81 grade point average majoring in Cognitive Sciences. The junior forward from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, registered three goals and four assists while finishing second on the team in shots.
PREVIOUS MATCH: (Nov. 1) BOCA RATON, Fla. – Rice held a 17-7 advantage in shots and a steady 8-3 margin corner kicks, but No. 8 seed Charlotte slipped away with a 1-0 victory over the Owls in the opening round of the Conference USA Championship Tournament Nov. 1 in Boca Raton… Rice saw its school record 11-game unbeaten streak come to an end. The Owls are now 12-3-2 on the season, tied for the fourth-highest single season win total in the history of the program... A nine-win Charlotte squad, that had won the C-USA tournament last season, was ready to play its best game after the Owls posted to a 1-0 win over the 49ers in a C-USA regular season road game just two weeks before in North Carolina. In the rematch, Charlotte registered five of its seven shots on the day in the first 25 minutes of the contest… The Blue & Gray turned up the offensive pressure midway through the first half with five additional shots and four corner kicks. The Owls continued the pace in the second period with a 9-2 margin in shots. Credit 49er goalkeeper Abby Stapleton for making saves on shots from five different Owls in the second half… In a sequence in the 88th minute that was against the game's flow, Charlotte’s Megan Green corralled a loose ball on the right wing and played to C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Martha Thomas. Thomas’ shot and found the back of the Owl net on the left side for her 12th goal of the season. The timing could not have been worse, as the Blue & Gray then had only 169 seconds to find an equalizer.
THE RICE-BAYLOR SERIES: Baylor leads the all-time series with Rice 5-0-3. The most-recent clash was on August 24 of this year, a 0-0 double-overtime deadlock in Houston at the Owls’ Holloway Field. That tie snapped a stretch of three-straight losses to the Bears from games played in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The teams also tied in 2009 (score 1-1) and 2004 (score 0-0). The Bears posted wins in the first two meetings of the series in 2001 (score 3-1) and 2002 (score 2-1)… Rice is 0-3-1 in games played in Waco. The Owls have not scored a road goal at Baylor since 2001, the first-ever meeting of the series and also the very first year for Rice to field a varsity soccer program.
DID YOU KNOW? When the Owls take the field on Friday night, the Nov. 10 match will mark the fourth-latest date Rice soccer has ever reached in a season. Each of the three-latest dates were of course from the NCAA Tournament appearances in the 2004, 2005 and 2014 seasons. The Blue & Gray played on Nov. 11 in 2005, Nov. 12 in 2004 and on Nov. 14 in 2014.