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Friday, December 01, 2023 — Houston, TX

Rice Soccer shut out by UNT in first road AAC match

Courtesy Rice Athletics Freshman forward Sophie Zhang passes the ball against the University of North Texas. The Owls lost to the Mean Green 6-0 on Thursday evening, falling to 2-8-1 on the season.

By Cadan Hanson     9/27/23 12:17am

Rice Soccer traveled to Denton on Sept. 24, where they were defeated 6-0 by the University of North Texas. According to graduate transfer midfielder Sarah Piper, the team was disappointed by the final results.

“The game Thursday was definitely frustrating for all of us,” Piper said. “We need to make sure we’re focusing for the entire 90 minutes.”

The Owls started off the game on the defensive with the Mean Green immediately getting shot opportunities on goal. Graduate transfer goalkeeper Hannah Pimentel was an iron wall for the Owls early game, getting three of her game total seven saves in the first 15 minutes of the match. 

In the 27th minute, the Mean Green were able to get past Pimentel to take a 1-0 lead. Another save by Pimentel late in the first prevented the lead from growing and the Owls went into the half down one. 

According to Piper, the team had their share of opportunities early in the game, but not being able to finish them halted their momentum as the game moved forward.

“I think we started fairly strong and found chances, but need to make sure we capitalize on them earlier in order to build a bit more confidence early in the half,” Piper said.

The second half went downhill fast for the Owls. Over the next 45 minutes of play, the Mean Green found the back of the net five times. After a few unsuccessful Owls offensive attacks, the game ended 6-0. 

Over the course of the game, the Mean Green dominated on both sides of the ball, putting up 26 shots, 13 on goal, to the Owls’ four shots, one on goal. Defensive errors were evident and Piper explained that a lot of it came from a lack of consistency throughout the game.

“Defensively, we need to be better with marking in the box and staying focused for the entire 90 minutes,” Piper said. “We need to make sure we aren’t turning off during big moments to bounce back [after a goal was scored] or build traction [beginnings of halves].”

The loss drops the Owls season record to 2-8-1, and 0-2 in conference play. The shutout marked their fifth scoreless game on the season and their fourth straight loss in a row, losing by a combined 20-5 in that period.

“We need to [build] each other up,” Piper said. “We’re all frustrated as a team, but we all also see the potential of what we can do individually and collectively when we stay focused towards a similar goal.”

The Owls return to the pitch Thursday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, to be streamed on ESPN+. Despite the slow start, the team is focused forward on the next match.

“I think we’re all still confident that we can show up in conference play and be the team we want to be,” Piper said. “We’ve struggled to get the results we’ve wanted in the first two conference games, but we’re making sure to keep our eyes on the next game and the potential we have to turn it around this Thursday.”

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