Soccer falls to SMU in Opening Round of C-USA, 3-1
With a potential conference co-championship on the line, the Rice University Owls did not disappoint, winning 1-0 against in-city rivals University of Houston. The Owls were victorious due to the great defense of sophomore goalkeeper Amy Czyz and the penalty kick by captain Lauren LaGro. LaGro, a senior, did not miss in the most consequential minute of play and scored the decisive championship goal. With the win, the Owls ended the night and the regular season as Conference USA co-champions alongside Colorado College. At the end of the season, the Owls had an 11-6-3 record, including an 8-2-1 conference record. While the Owls were able to celebrate their glory for a short while, there was a quick turnaround in their schedule: the C-USA Championship Tournament.
Before the tournament even began, C-USA released its all-conference honors for the year. Four Owls made the cut. Freshman forward Holly Hargreaves, who has had an impressive season this year, received the honor of C-USA Freshman of the Year. Hargreaves is the first to receive the honor in Owls soccer history. Hargreaves also received two other honorable distinctions. She was selected to the all-freshman team along with teammate Lauren Hughes, and Hargreaves was also named a member of the all-conference first team along with sophomore midfielder Quinney Troung. The Owls also posted two members, Hughes and LaGro, on the all-conference second team. These recognitions to the all-conference teams are equal in number to those of conference rival and nationally ranked University of Central Florida, emphasizing just how great a season the Owls have had.
With the loss to Colorado College two weeks ago, the Owls were relegated to the No. 2 overall seed heading into the tournament. This was definitely a surprise for many in C-USA, as the Owls were projected to finish sixth in the conference during preseason rankings. Heading into the tournament, Head Coach Nikki Adams was cognizant of the work still ahead.
"The tournament's tough," Adams said. "SMU has always been a rivalry with Rice. We expect the best coming from them."
The Owls began their tournament play on Oct. 31 with a loss against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, 3-1. Hagreaves scored the lone goal for the Owls, her tenth of the year. With the loss, the Owls have been eliminated from the tournament. With the tournament behind them, the Owls must wait to see if they receive an at-large bid invite to the NCAA tournament next week. Until then, we can assess the success that the team has had this year. The Owls, as mentioned before, defied all expectations of everyone in the conference. They were projected to finish sixth in the conference, but ended the season with a co-championship.
The future looks even brighter for the program, especially with Hughes and Hargeaves having a lot more soccer to play for the Owls. If their freshman season was this good with many records broken, imagine what the 2013 season has in store for the women's soccer. Add to the fact that the whole team for the most part was young this year, one more year of play together has them primed hopefully to repeat as C-USA champions.
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