Soccer readies for postseason
Senior forward Lauren Hughes drives down the field
With a 2-0 record last weekend, the Rice University soccer team positioned themselves for another late-season run towards the Conference USA championship. The Owls competed in two more games this weekend and came away with one win and one tie, stretching their unbeaten streak to four matches.
On Friday night, Rice defeated the University of Alabama, Birmingham by a score of 2-0. The team followed this performance up with a Sunday matchup against Middle Tennessee State University that ended in a 0-0 double overtime tie. The Owls have accumulated 16 points so far in conference and are currently in second place in C-USA with a 9-5-2 (5-2-1) record.
Rice matched up against a UAB team that had just two wins on the season as of Friday night. The Owls scored in the 26th minute when sophomore midfielder Samantha Chaiken elevated to head a corner kick into the back of the net.
The second Owls goal came just six minutes later from senior forward Holly Hargreaves. The Owls had opportunities to tack on more goals as the game went on hitting the crossbar on multiple occasions but settled for the 2-0 victory over the Blazers.
On Sunday afternoon, the Owls hosted the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. In the second half, Rice owned possession time and outshot their opposition 13-2. Despite leading the shot margin 26-13, the match ended in a scoreless draw rewarding each team with one point. All four defenders for Rice along with junior goalkeeper Zoe Pochobradsky played 110 minutes in route to recording their third shutout in the last four games.
Head Coach Nicky Adams said she was disappointed the Owls could not connect on offensive opportunities.
“Overall, I thought we battled extremely hard … [I’m] just disappointed that one of the 26 opportunities that we had did not go in but you have to give so much credit to their goalkeeper,” Adams said. “13 saves on the day is huge and she had some legit saves so a lot of credit goes to that kid between the pipes.”
Adams reiterated the importance of finishing opportunities. She said the team has great potential when they can put everything together, including the goals.
“It’s great to see the defense hold up [and the] shots on goal but at the end of the day you need every unit together and finishing to get some W’s,” Adams said. “We’re brilliant out there when everybody is on the same page, but we have to do it a little more consistently.”
Sophomore forward Nia Stallings said she is excited to now face the University of North Texas, currently ranked first in C-USA with a 6-0-1 Conference record.
“They are always a tough opponent and they come out really hard and physical but we’ll be ready for that and give it right back to them,” Stallings said. “The plan is to go over there and come out with the win.”
The highly anticipated matchup dates back to last season when the two teams played each other on two separate occasions, each in dramatic fashion. On Oct. 12, 2014, Rice and North Texas fought to a 1-1 double overtime draw at Holloway Field. The two squads then faced each other once more in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament where Rice defeated North Texas by a 2-0 final and secured an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Rice will take the field against North Texas on Sunday at 7 p.m.
More from The Rice Thresher
Stahlé Vincent came back to Rice over the weekend. But this time, he got a different reception than he did when he first set foot on campus over five decades ago. “[When I first got here] there was not an open-arm reception,” Vincient said. “There were people who never spoke [to me], people avoided me, I had professors who wouldn’t call my name at roll. There was an animus there that you could feel.”
During her 19-year tenure, Rice volleyball head coach Genny Volpe has led the Owls to seven NCAA tournaments, two conference championships, 14 winning seasons and, as of Aug. 26’s victory over the University of Houston, 350 wins. With the Owls back in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s top 25 as of Monday, those numbers seem poised to keep improving. This is a flooring amount of success for a program that had never even been to the tournament until Volpe was hired, but she is far from willing to take sole credit.
On Sunday, a flock of birds rose victorious above Tudor fieldhouse and it wasn’t a band of blue jays. After five intense sets, the Owls team took down No. 17 Creighton University on a second match point, capping off a tournament which started off with a reverse sweep of Big 12 opponent Kansas State University. After missing out on the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Top 25 last week by one spot, the defining weekend was enough to jump the Rice volleyball team to No. 23 on the rankings.