By glancing at every statistic besides the final score, the casual sports fan would have guessed that the soccer team had walked away from their season-opening match with Texas Tech University (2-0-0) with their first win of the year. The Owls led the Red Raiders in every offensive category from shots, shots on goal, to corner kicks. But the only statistic that mattered at the end of the night was the one beneath the words "Texas Tech" and the zero beneath "Rice" on the scoreboard at the John Walker Soccer Complex. Rice had the upper hand for the first half, outshooting Tech 5-4 and earning four corner kicks compared to the Red Raiders' two.
However, a counterattack in the 64th minute proved to be the Owls' downfall as a failed offensive possession left Rice out of possession to defend against quickly advancing Texas Tech midfielders, who fired two shots on goal against freshman goalkeeper Amy Czyz. Czyz deflected the first shot, but Tech midfielder Tiffini Smith took control and fired the ball into the back of the goal for the only score of the match. Senior forward Hope Ward led the Owls with two shots on goal, while
fielder Gabriela Iribarne and forward Ashton Geissendorf contributed one shot on goal each.
"Overall, we played well. But Texas Tech took advantage of a mistake," said Head Coach Nicky Adams. "We had a mistake after one of our own restarts, and it ended up costing us the game."
If the first half of their match against McNeese State University (0-2-0) on August 21 was any indication, the Owls appeared to have an emotional hangover from the defeat at the hands of Texas Tech. Despite tallying 14 shots in the first half, the Owls failed to put one across the goal line and remained knotted at zero with the Cowgirls heading into the locker room. Whatever was said in the locker room seemed to do the trick for Rice, as senior defender Amy Beger rocketed a long-range shot past McNeese State goalkeeper Katie Seeber just 11 minutes into the start of the second half. Beger talked about freshman Lauren Busansksy's effort in setting up the highlight-reel goal.
"There were a bunch of girls heading right for [Busansky]," Beger recounted. "Buzz just played it back to me and I saw a gap. I was sure I could get it to the corner (of the goal)."
Adams added her own take on Busansky's overall match performance.
"One person I was really proud of was Lauren Busansky," Adams said. "Today we put her in a role that she hadn't trained for and she did a magnificent job. She completed that first pass and it calmed us down. Lauren did what she was asked, and did it well, and as coaches that really gets our attention."
With Czyz and the defense holding the Cowgirl attack at bay, senior forward Annie Kadota added a second score 78 minutes into the match off a pass from senior defender Nikki Storness. Junior forward Alex Burton contributed an insurance goal off a rebound in the 86th minute to bring the game to its final score of 3-0.
Adams spoke about her strategy in motivating the Owls at halftime.
"We were taking too many touches in the first half," said Adams. "Too many touches ended up slowing us down. It was something we addressed at halftime, that we need to increase our speed of play."
Rice heads north to Fort Worth to take on Texas Christian University (1-1-0) tonight at 7 p.m. The Horned Frogs lost their season opener to Oklahoma State University by a score of 1-0, but defeated Lamar University 2-0 on Sunday.