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Wednesday, December 06, 2023 — Houston, TX

Soccer season ends with loss

Junior midfielder Natalie Gorji dribbles the ball during the Owls’ loss on Senior Night to the University of Texas at San Antonio. The Owls ended their season with an overall record of 3-13-2. Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Diego Palos Rodriguez     11/1/23 1:11am

The Owls lost to the University of Texas at San Antonio 2-0 on Thursday in their last game of the season on Senior Night. Out of the twelve teams in the American Athletic Conference for women’s soccer, Rice was one of four to not qualify for the AAC Women’s Soccer Championship tournament, finishing their season with a 1-7-1 conference record and 3-13-2 overall record, not winning a game at home. 

The last time the Owls finished with a losing record in conference was in 2011. This is also the first time in the 23-year program history that the Owls didn’t win a game at home. 

The first half was relatively quiet except for a header from freshman forward Sophie Zhang inside the box that was caught by the Roadrunner goalkeeper. The second half was marked by two UTSA goals, both in the first 15 minutes. 

The Owls were unable to answer despite late efforts and a close chance from graduate forward Ellen Halseth and senior midfielder Mikala Furuto with 12 minutes left in the game.

Despite the loss, sophomore defender Carsyn Martz believes that the team showed improvement from the beginning of the season. 

“I think our team gradually improved since the start of preseason,” Martz said. “We had a lot to figure out with a lot of seniors graduating and a lot of new players coming in, so it was a bit of a rocky road, but we got better and better and improved.”

This season saw the Owls struggle from the get go. Aside from two early non-conference wins against Texas Southern University and Northwestern State University, the Owls were winless until a recent victory against Temple University. In that run of losses, Rice dropped four straight by a combined score of 20-5.

“For our standards, [this season was] obviously really poor,” head coach Brian Lee said. “But there [were] a lot of things [that contributed to that]. Everytime we turned around, something was going wrong. Our preparation over the summer wasn’t great, our coaching decisions took us forever to get to the right setup to give ourselves a chance in games, so anything that could go wrong did.”

In the last few games of conference, however, Rice came away with better results. The Owls kept a close game against a high-powered No. 9 University of Memphis at 2-0 and remained competitive against the rest of their conference opponents, winning one, tying one and holding one-score deficits against the rest except for UTSA. 

“We have to prepare better,” Lee said. “The kids have to get fitter. We’ve got several kids that we don’t know if they’re good or not, or good enough or not, because they can’t run. Towards the end of the season that got a little better, but we’re so far behind the eight-ball with our summer preparation last year.”

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