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Soccer star Schultz aims to put exclamation point on Rice career

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Photo courtesy Rice Athletics

By Cadan Hanson     8/23/22 11:32pm

If you’ve followed Rice soccer over the last four years, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the name Delaney Schultz. Since first stepping foot on the Rice campus, the fifth-year senior midfielder has left her mark on the soccer program, earning all-Conference honors three times and helping lead the team to the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA tournament. 

Growing up, Schultz was the epitome of a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball, tennis, swimming and field hockey. The Missouri native did not start seriously playing soccer until her freshman year of high school when she joined one of the best club teams in St. Louis. She continued to play throughout high school at the Mary Institute and Country Day School, helping her school win their first and second ever district championships, collecting all-state honors along the way. As her success on the soccer pitch continued, Schultz said that colleges came knocking.

“[When] I realized college soccer was a possibility for me … I got noticed by Rice in the spring of my sophomore year when I came down to Houston for a recruiting event,” Schultz said. “I didn’t know what Rice was at the time but I came and visited and I fell in love with the school and the quality of academics.”



Immediately, Schultz made an impact on the team. As a true freshman, Schultz won a starting defender spot and never looked back on her way to winning a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman team. Not only did Schultz start every game for the Owls but she played every minute of the season.However, going into the season, Schultz said that she wasn’t even sure that she would see the field.

“My first goal coming into [my] freshman year was to make the travel team,” Schultz said. “Once I made the travel team, I wanted to get minutes and then I ended up starting.  During freshman year, everything comes at you so fast and I don't really think I had time to think much about it. I was just trying to help the team out. I was happy to be getting as many minutes as I was and I was just having the time of my life.”

After moving back to midfield for her sophomore season, Schultz hit two game winners against C-USA opponents, and earned Second Team All-South Region honors from the United Soccer Coaches Association. However, her swift climb took a sharp turn when she tore her ACL in practice, the spring before her junior season. To make matters worse, the injury occured a week before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the entire school home. Schultz made the difficult decision to remain in Houston for rehab. According to Schultz, the injury motivated her to make a jump going into her junior year.

“I ended up getting surgery the last day they were doing non-essential surgeries in Houston,” Schultz said.  “After the surgery you have to learn how to walk, run and jump again and I think the jump from sophomore to junior year actually came through that recovery. I think I came out of that recovery a better player with more motivation. When you’re out for a year it gives you a lot of desire to come back stronger and so I think the reason I had that jump was actually the fact that I got injured.”

Coming off the injury, Schultz looked like she never left. She continued to fill her personal trophy case with awards, earning First Team All-South Region honors, C-USA Tournament Offensive MVP and the No. 92 spot on TopDrawerSoccer’s rankings of the best players in the NCAA. Her efforts helped the Owls win the conference and reach the NCAA tournament.According to Schultz, her season really got going following a mid-season upset of No.18 ranked Texas A&M.

“My first season back from injury, the beginning of the season was a little rough just getting back into things,” Schultz said.  “Even for the team, we didn't have the best start but everything changed after the A&M game and we took off from there. It was all uphill from there all the way to the NCAA tournament.”

Schultz’s junior campaign became even more remarkable as she picked up two assists in the  Owls’ first round win over Furman University. In their second round game against No. 4 West Virginia University, Schultz hit the back of the net on a game winning penalty kick to send the Owls to the Sweet 16.

While the team took a step back the following season, losing in the first round of the conference tournament, Schultz continued to collect accolades. She won C-USA Player of the Year and jumped to No. 77 in TopDrawerSoccer’s best players list. Schultz led the team and was second in C-USA in goals (9), points (25) and shots (60) in her fourth season, which she said was a result of working every day to get better.

“I haven’t done anything complicated my whole soccer career,” Schultz said. “I just love playing and as much as I love playing, I love training on my own. I really like the process of seeing myself get better at something and so almost every day I’ll go out to the field and run or be with the ball and slowly get better. When you do something repetitive over and over, over a long period of time you’re gonna see results.”



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