Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Friday, July 01, 2022 — Houston, TX

Soccer falls to No. 12 UVA 3-0 in Sweet 16


Courtesy Andy Mead

By Reed Myers     5/8/21 10:00pm

No. 25 Rice soccer was defeated 3-0 on Wednesday night by No. 12 University of Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. This capped off the Owls’ tournament run, which saw them defeat Furman University in the opening round and upset No. 5 West Virginia University in the second round. Following the match, head coach Brian Lee looked back on the Owls’ postseason stretch fondly.

“I am happy for the players, our administration and everyone involved with the program,” Lee said. “UVA were excellent and [are] one of the very best teams in the country.” 

After the game’s start was delayed by over an hour due to inclement weather, the Owls and Cavaliers battled it out under the lights for a spot in the Elite Eight. Like their matchup against No. 5 WVU, the Owls got off to a slow start as UVA opened the game as the more aggressive and attacking team. The Cavaliers dominated possession and relentlessly attacked the Owls’ defense. With limited possession, Rice struggled to continue their buildup play into the opposing side’s half, leading to minimal scoring chances for the Owls. Fortunately, the Owls’ defense continued their recent string of good performances as they denied countless scoring opportunities for the Cavaliers’ offense early on in the match. However, UVA continued to test Rice’s backline. They would eventually have their breakthrough late in the first half.

With less than ten minutes to go in the half, the Cavaliers’ offense patiently kept possession in the Owls’ defensive third of the pitch, eventually finding sophomore forward Diana Ordonez around the middle edge of the box. Ordonez used her first touch to spin away from Rice’s senior defender Mijke Roelfsema, putting her in position for a potential shot on goal. Roelfsema attempted to prevent the goalscoring opportunity, but made contact with Ordonez instead, bringing her down in the box, giving a penalty to the Cavaliers. Ordonez stepped up to the penalty spot and struck her shot to the left side of the goal past the outstretched arms of junior goalkeeper Bella Killgore. The Cavaliers would take their 1-0 lead into the break. Despite conceding first, Lee was proud of the way his team defended in the match.

“Their front three [were]a handful,” Lee said. “That said, I thought our team defending was excellent, and we were a little unlucky on the penalty late [in the] first half.”

The second half saw much of the same storyline as the first. UVA continued their high defensive pressure, making it difficult for the Owls to retain possession and find attacking space to create chances for their offense. The Cavaliers looked to double their lead on offense, continuously applying pressure on the Owls’ defense. In the 68th minute, the Cavaliers swung in a corner and found Ordonez, who made a run into the middle of the six-yard box. Ordonez’s header ricocheted off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net for her brace (second goal of the match).

UVA and Ordonez continued to cause problems for Rice’s defense late in the second half. After her teammate’s header hit the crossbar and bounced back into play, Ordonez connected on the rebound with her own header. This time, the Cavaliers’ offense would not be denied, as Ordonez completed her hat trick with another header in the 82nd minute. This was the dagger for the Owls, as they would not be able to mount a comeback with less than ten minutes to go in the match. The Cavaliers’ attacking prowess proved to be too much for the Owls as they created just 16 shots to Rice’s two. The Cavaliers now move on to the quarterfinals, where they will face No. 4 Texas Christian University. Despite the loss, Lee recognizes the collective effort and defensive brilliance that allowed the Owls to make their tournament run and grow as a team this year.

“It was a group effort, and so many people played a part in a wonderful run,” Lee said. “[This was] a season of tremendous growth and an outstanding last 10-12 games buoyed by brilliant team defending.”

With the loss, the Owls finished their season with a 14-3-1 record. Rice’s season full of accolades saw the Owls win the Conference USA title, earn a top 25 national ranking and win the program’s first-ever matches in the NCAA tournament. The Owls will look to build off of this momentum with a majority of the squad set to come back as the team gears up for next season. 

“Every season is a new team,” Lee said. “When we reconvene in August, we will assess and go from there, but we are excited to return almost everyone and add some outstanding prospects to the squad.”

More from The Rice Thresher

SPORTS 6/13/22 2:41pm
Forbes takes silver at NCAAs

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.

SPORTS 6/3/22 1:21pm
NCAA T&F prelims see five Owls qualify for championships, Forbes take gold

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.

SPORTS 5/22/22 10:09pm
Men's team takes third, women's takes fifth at C-USA T&F championships

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.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.