Soccer outscores opponents 10-0
The Rice University soccer team (6-1-2, 2-0 C-USA) played at home this past weekend to open their 2014 Conference USA schedule. The Owls took two more victories to add to their streak of unbeaten matches, which now stands at eight games. Rice defeated the University of Southern Mississippi 4-0 at home on Friday night. The Owls followed up that performance with a 6-0 defeat over Louisiana Tech University, in which junior Holly Hargreaves scored four goals.
On Friday night, the Owls got on the board first in the 16th minute of the game. Senior midfielder Gabriela Iribarne scored her first goal of the season on a header that snuck by the far post. The assist on the goal was credited to sophomore Jenny Fichera, who, just six minutes later, put Rice up 2-0 with a penalty kick. The Owls took a season-high 24 shots on the night and produced 11 corners. The fourth goal of the first half came on a long distance strike from junior forward Lauren Hughes.
The Owls carried Friday’s offensive production into Sunday afternoon’s game against Louisiana Tech. The Owls connected on six more goals against the Bulldogs, led by Hargreaves. Her career-day earned her the school single-game record for goals scored in a match and the school record for goals in Rice history. Lauren Hughes added a 75th minute goal and stretched the lead to 5-0. Hughes’s 23rd goal of her career leaves her two behind her current teammate, Hargreaves, who has 25.
The steady play of the Rice defensive line helped back the offense. Senior goalkeeper Amy Czyz posted back-to-back shutouts for the Owls, giving her five this season. The two opposing teams combined for only six shots on goal through two games.
Head Coach Nicky Adams said she was extremely pleased with the way her team opened Conference USA play this past weekend.
“I’m so proud of our starters for getting it done early [against Southern Miss],” Adams said. “This game was extremely special because every player on the roster got playing time. Obviously, to follow that up with a demanding 6-0 win over La Tech was phenomenal.”
Recognizing that the Owls have not lost since Aug. 22, Adams said she believes opposing teams will try to end their unbeaten streak.
“When we consider the way we are playing right now and the success we have had this season, we know that the target on our back is only getting bigger,” Adams said.
Hargreaves said starting conference play with the success they did will give the team confidence moving forward.
“The dominance we as a team played with is so encouraging,” Hargreaves said. “Our drive and our strength [was] incredible… [and] we are ready to bring the intensity we brought this weekend to every game we play.”
Hargreaves said she credits her four-goal game to her teammates for their passing and giving her scoring opportunities.
“My game was truly owed to the people around me,” Hargreaves said. “The assists and combination leading up to the goals is what creates the opportunities; I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Czyz said the team’s improvement from last year’s 7-8-3 team is owed to the team’s sense of camaraderie.
“This team has been through a lot,” Czyz said. “Most of us have felt what it is to be dominant and win, but also experienced what it is to struggle and lose.Collectively, we made a decision to get back to that winning mentality from our previous years… and simply enjoy playing together. That's been the difference maker for us this year.”
The Owls will head out on the road this upcoming weekend to face two in-state Conference USA opponents. Beginning Friday night at 7 p.m., the Owls will take on the University of Texas, San Antonio. Following the match, the Owls will play again Sunday afternoon at the University of Texas, El Paso. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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