On a sweltering Houston day that left even fans in the bleachers soaked in sweat, the Rice soccer team earned its first win of the year with a 4-0 victory over Texas A&M, Corpus Christi. The win followed a 2-1 season-opening loss to the University of Texas, Austin. Head coach Nicky Adams said the team did a great job moving on from a tough loss.
“I’m really pleased with how we rebounded,” Adams said. “I think our girls were devastated after Friday night with all the chances we created and didn’t put them away. To get a 4-0 result, it’s fantastic.”
Four Owls scored their first goals of the season in the victory. Sophomore defender Louise Stephens opened the scoring with her first career goal in the 12th minute. Junior midfielder Annie Walker’s corner kick found Stephens around the 18-yard box, and she headed the ball past the goalkeeper. Stephens said she was thrilled to get her first career goal.
“I felt like I needed to step up and make something happen,” Stephens said. “It felt good, really good.”
In the 33rd minute, senior midfielder Samantha Chaiken doubled the Rice lead. Chaiken headed home a corner from junior midfielder Dominique Mazero. In 65 minutes, Chaiken registered six shots, two on goal. She said her rapport with Mazero helped make the goal happen.
“I’ve played with [Mazero] since I was really young,” Chaiken said. “Finishing set pieces coming from her is textbook for us. I just found the ball and put it in the back of the net.”
Rice added a third goal just nine minutes later when sophomore forward Haley Kostyshyn took a pass from senior defender Mallory Radtke and put it home from inside the six-yard box. Kostyshyn’s goal was the final one of the first half. In the second half, freshman midfielder Rebecca Keane broke through for her first career goal to put the finishing touches on the 4-0 win by beating the goalkeeper one-one-one.
The Owls outshot the Islanders 23-4 over the course of the game. Chaiken said the disparity in shots was due to Rice’s attacking mentality.
“We did a really great job combining to get forward and create chances for ourselves,” Chaiken said. “When you outshoot a team 23-4, you almost expect it to be more than 4-0.”
The Owls stay home this week and get a chance to face two marquee opponents at Holloway Field. On Friday night, Baylor University comes to Houston and on Sunday night, the University of Houston visits. Adams said she is excited about the Owls’ next two matchups.
“We have a really tough nonconference schedule this year,” Adams said. “We start with Baylor, who is a top teams in the Big 12. They’re going to be very physical, direct team so we’re going to stay composed and be able to play Rice soccer. Then we turn around and play a crosstown rival which is always going to be a good match.”
For now, though, the Owls get to celebrate a successful start to the home slate. According to Chaiken, the win should give Rice momentum for its upcoming games.
“It was very important,” Chaiken said. “It’s going to set the tone for us moving forward and we’re excited for our following games against Baylor and UH.”