Rice soccer’s historic season came to an end Friday night with a 3-2 loss to Baylor University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Owls finish the season 12-4-2 with a regular season conference championship and the fourth-ever NCAA tournament appearance in program history. Some notes from the season-ending loss:
-Senior midfielder Aliza Wolfe put her name in the Rice record books by scoring the first goal in Rice’s NCAA tournament history. Rice’s had been shutout in all three of its previous NCAA tournament appearances. Her goal gave Rice a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute of the match.
-The Bears scored two goals 1:34 apart in the 25th and 26th minutes of the match. The first came off a rebound on a corner kick and the second came on a long range shot from outside the box that beat the Rice goalkeeper. Baylor gave up just 0.5 goals per game on the season, so even trailing by just one, Rice faced an uphill battle.
-Rice sophomore midfielder Erin Mikeska brought the Owls back level in the 56th minute with her third goal of the season. She put home a bouncing ball off a cross from senior forward Nia Stallings, just past the dive of the Baylor goalkeeper. In doing so, she extended Rice’s record for most goals in an NCAA tournament to two.
-Baylor took the lead once and for all in the 74th minute when a loose ball found the foot of Reagan Padgett in the box. She put it home past Maya Hoyer, who had come off her line to try to retrieve the bouncing ball. The Owls could not muster anything over the final 16 minutes and fell 3-2.
-Baylor had a 28-12 advantage in shots and a 9-3 advantage in corners, including 7-0 in the first half. The shot discrepancy mirrored the teams’ first meeting of the year, during which Baylor outshot Rice 18-11 but the teams finished tied 0-0.
-After winning ten consecutive games, the Owls went 0-2-1 in their final three games to close the season.
-Rice is still looking for its first-ever win in an NCAA tournament game. The Owls are now 0-4, having lost tournament openers in 2004, 2005, 2014 and 2017.
-The Owls will lose six seniors to graduation including senior midfielder Samantha Chaiken, senior defender Mallory Radtke, Stallings and Wolfe.
Further coverage to come