Soccer validates C-USA rank
The Rice Owls lived up to their preseason billing last week as one of the top teams in the Conference USA. Coming off a disappointing loss to Baylor University in the season opener, the ladies proved themselves with their following two matches.
First the Owls traveled to Baton Rouge to take on Louisiana State University - a team that could be a contender for the SEC title. Despite pouring rain in the second half, a record 2,500 fans attended the game.
Freshman Holly Hargreaves scored the opening goal of the contest in the 16th minute, blasting a shot from outside the box to put the Owls up 1-0.
"Holly hit a laser and that gave us a lot of momentum," Head Coach Nikki Adams said. "I thought we did a really good job in the first half of keeping possession of the ball." In the second half, senior Lauren LaGro nailed the post on a shot that would have given the Owls a 2-0 lead. Then LSU tied the contest in the 74th minute, pushing it into overtime. The Tigers and Owls tied 1-1.
The next Sunday, in Lake Charles, the Owls defeated the McNeese State Cowboys 2-0 for their first victory.
In the second half, senior Julia Barrow found freshman Lauren Hughes inside the box, hit a shot from 10 yards out. Rice had a 19-5 advantage in shots in the game.
Goalkeeper Amy Czyz was named C-USA DefenderoftheWeekforhereffortsinthetwo games, including career-high eleven saves against LSU.
The Owls take on Texas Christian University today and Texas State University on Sunday at Rice Stadium, two teams which are both capable of testing this young Owls squad.
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On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.
Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.