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Soccer beats HBU, loses ‘Bayou Cup’ to UH

Photo courtesy Rice Athletics

By Diego Palos Rodriguez     9/6/22 11:23pm

Airfare was kept to a minimum over the weekend, as the Rice soccer team played a pair of games against crosstown rivals. The Owls got their second win of the season last Thursday when they beat Houston Baptist University 1-0. On Sunday, the Owls fell to the University of Houston 3-1, in a match that should henceforth be referred to as the ‘Bayou Cup.’ According to head coach Brian Lee, the year is still young, and he’s enjoyed seeing newer players step up when they’ve been called on.

“Overall, it’s still early,” Lee said. “We’re rotating so much. It’s good to see some new kids playing … [and] to see people stepping forward as well.”

With a number of players sidelined with injuries, the team came out strong against a solid HBU team on Thursday. Within the first three minutes, the Owls were already inches from taking the lead. After a cross from junior midfielder Shiloh Miller, sophomore attacking midfielder Mikala Furuto got a solid shot on the ball, but her attempt was cleared at the line by the Huskies’ defense. While Rice continued with the pressure for the next half hour, they struggled to find chances up front. On the other side of the field, however, the Owls’ defnesive line of juniors Shelby DesRoches and Jaden Roberts, as well as freshman Carsyn Martz, were stonewalling all Husky attacks, giving the Owls’ offense more opportunities to create chances. Their shot finally came in the 29th minute when graduate transfer forward Grace Collins put in a cross off a corner that found senior midfielder Madison Kent just in front of goal, heading it in to give the Owls a 1-0 lead.

“It was a great serve by Grace [Collins],” Lee said. “Madison [Kent] is quite athletic and did a great job of getting her head on it and close to frame.” 

The rest of the game was controlled by the Owls. Despite not scoring again, they had seven shots on goal in the game, and their defense allowed only two shots on goal the entire game, securing the 1-0 victory.

On Sunday, the Owls made their way across town to play the University of Houston. Like in past games, the Owls applied early pressure that almost got them a goal with a Collins shot from inside the box that was saved by the Cougars goalkeeper. With ten minutes to go in the half, as both teams began breaking through each others’ defensive lines, UH had an opportunity from a half volley outside of the eighteen-yard box. The impressive strike flew just wide of diving senior goalkeeper Bella Killgore and hit the back of the net, giving UH a 1-0 lead. 

The Owls kept up the offensive pressure, but were unable to find a scoring chance until just a few seconds before the halftime whistle blew; Collins dribbled into the box and was taken down for a penalty. As the referee stopped the time, Killgore jogged up from her goal and stepped up to the penalty spot. Killgore won the battle of the keepers, placing her shot right of the Cougars goalkeeper, who dove the opposite way. With that, both teams went into the locker room tied at 1-1.

Starting in the second half, senior midfielder Delaney Schultz fired a shot from outside the box that hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced right on the goal line and into the hands of the UH goalkeeper. The next chance went to the Cougars as their striker was able to break free from a tackle and shoot it on goal, escaping the hands of Killgore and rolling inside the net to give UH the lead. Not long after, the Cougars capitalized on another chance off a corner kick, bringing their lead up to 3-1. The rest of the game didn’t offer much as neither side could find any scoring opportunities. After the game, Lee talked about the differences between the first and second half.

“Tonight, the first half especially was a big step forward, we played really well,” Lee said. “To be honest, sometimes in [this] game, you don’t get what you deserve. I still thought we were okay in the second-half. One of [ours could have gone] in, when we hit the bar. They scored the first time they were anywhere near our goal in the second-half, so that was a bit unfortunate.”

Regardless of the result, the Owls are happy to have Schultz back from injury as her presence was already felt. Despite only playing thirty minutes, she had the most shots for Rice and produced the clearest chance of the second half. 

“It felt good [coming back],” Schultz said. “Limited minutes, but [I’m] just trying to get back out there and help the team. It was disappointing tonight that I wasn’t able to do more, but I think we’ll bounce back. My ankle is feeling good”

Lee emphasized the importance of the returning players as well as getting the squad back to full fitness.

 “It’s good to see Delaney [Schultz] coming back and [Kallie] McKinney getting some minutes,” Lee said. “We’re just trying to get healthy [before conference].”

The loss dropped the Owls to 2-4 on the season, with conference play approaching quickly. Despite their struggles against non-conference opponents, Schultz said that  at the end of the day, conference is what matters most for the season.

“I think [we’ve] had a tough non-conference, but when conference starts, it’s a new season,” Schultz said. “We’re looking to start fresh and get going in terms of conference play, so we’re excited for that, too.”

The Owls travel to San Marcos, Texas to play Texas State University on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.. On Sunday, Sept. 11, they host the reigning NCAA champions, Florida State University, at 1 p.m.

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