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The Rice women’s tennis team fell 6-1 on Saturday afternoon to the two-time defending national champion No. 10 University of Texas at Austin. The sky was clear and the sun was scorching at the George R. Brown Tennis Center where the Owls faced off against their second top-25 opponent in the last month. Despite being swept by now-No. 7 Texas A&M University, the Owls were on a three-match winning streak heading into Saturday’s bout with the Longhorns. According to head coach Elizabeth Schmidt, the Owls hoped to build off their recent form and get a win at home.
The baseball team was swept by Stanford University, the No. 2 team in the country, last weekend. Despite the sweep, however, the Owls kept the first and third games of the series close, showing glimpses of what they hope to be a turnaround under second year head coach Jose Cruz Jr. According to Cruz, the opportunity to play against a top-ranked team this early in the season gave the Owls a spotlight to show what they have been building.
Since the NCAA introduced a new policy allowing student-athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness more than a year ago, Rice athletes are increasingly agreeing to sponsorships with a variety of businesses. Student-athletes have had the opportunity to partner with everything from clothing stores, to food and drink brands, to restaurants. According to Quincy Olivari, a junior guard on the men’s basketball team, he’s used the new NIL rules to sponsor companies to which he feels a personal connection.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 began Nov. 20 and has brought much of the world to a halt with each game. From last-second winners to amazing goals and seat-clenching upsets, the drama has been high and the world has been captivated by it. Students at Rice are no exception, with a number of watch parties taking place everyday to celebrate and give students a place to cheer on their favorite countries and players. The Pub at Rice has streamed many of the games and has been a hub for many soccer fans in the past week, according to Will Rice College senior and head bartender Jonathan Lloyd.
After an undefeated Conference USA regular season, the top-seeded Owls came into the first round of the conference tournament against the eighth-seeded University of North Carolina at Charlotte as the heavy favorites. But history repeated itself in this David and Goliath match that saw the top-ranked Owls lose to the eighth seed in the first round for the second time in school history, the first also being against the 49ers in 2017. According to freshman defender Carsyn Martz, who returned from injury for the match, Charlotte’s persistence made the difference in the game.
A little less than two months ago, the Rice soccer team was in troubled waters. As the final whistle blew on their last game before conference play, sealing a 5-0 loss to reigning national champion Florida State University, the Owls had a 2-6 record. From the outside looking in, it seemed as if the Owls were destined for a disappointing season. But since then, the Owls have swept all of their Conference USA opponents, aside from one non-conference tie, and set themselves up for what is bound to be an exciting conference tournament. According to head coach Brian Lee, their early results came from a lack of familiarity between new and experienced players.
From breaking assist records to scoring game-winning goals and, last week, earning the United Soccer Coaches national player of the week honors, graduate forward Grace Collins has been all over the pitch and the papers this season, helping the Rice soccer team clinch the Conference-USA regular season title. Despite the graduate transfer’s outstanding season, it came close to not happening after the end of last year.
After winning just two of their eight non-conference games to start the year, the Rice soccer team has won all seven of their games in conference play, allowing just two goals in the process. Over the weekend, the squad defeated the University of Texas at El Paso 2-0 at home and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 1-0 on the road, with all three goals being scored by graduate transfer forward Grace Collins. While leading the team in both goals and assists this season, Collins attributed the Owls’ conference success to head coach Brian Lee and his emphasis on unnoticed details in each game.
Although Rice soccer is coming off three straight wins to start conference play, their struggles early in the season are notable enough to cast doubts. While the Owls went up against and lost to some of the best teams in the NCAA, such as No. 8 Florida State University and No. 23 Southern Methodist University, they also struggled against much weaker opponents such as Samford University and Loyola University Maryland. Formation changes and familiarity with the system seem to be having a positive impact on the quality of play at the start of conference play, but will it be enough to guide them past the Conference-USA and toward the NCAA Tournament glory seen less than two years ago?
The Rice soccer team ended non-conference play with a bang. That is, they were blown away by last season’s national champions, Florida State University, in a firm 5-0 loss in front of the home crowd. The game marked the end of the team’s non-conference matches, which saw them finish with a 2-6 record and a three game losing streak. Head coach Brian Lee, however, emphasized that their expectations have not changed from the beginning of the season.
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.
It took just 29 minutes for Grace Collins to make Rice history on Sunday night. The graduate transfer who joined the Owls from Texas Christian University dished out a whopping four first-half assists, before adding one more in the second half to set a conference record as the Owls beat the University of the Incarnate Word 5-2 for their first win of the season.
The Rice soccer team walked into last year with mountain-high expectations. After entering the season ranked No. 22 in the country, fresh off of a Sweet 16 appearance the season before, the team was disappointed to finish their year in the first round of the C-USA tournament. But according to senior goalkeeper Bella Killgore, despite a frustrating end to last season, hopes are high within the team as they look to use last year’s struggles as motivation during this season.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.