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Sports


SPORTS 10/28/14 11:09am

Soccer completes undefeated season at home

This past weekend, the Rice University soccer team won both home games, clinching an undefeated home record for the first time in program history.  Friday night’s Senior Day saw the team’s four seniors honored for their careers at Rice. Goalkeeper Amy Czyz, midfielders Gabriela Iribarne and Quinny Truong and defender Ashton Geisendorff led Rice to a 5-0 victory over Old Dominion University. On Sunday, the Owls defeated the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 4-1.On Friday night, junior Lauren Hughes got the Owls on the board first in the 17th minute of the game with a close range strike to beat the keeper. In the 32nd minute of the game, junior Holly Hargreaves scored on a chip shot that found the back of the net with the assist coming from Truong. Hughes went on to score two more goals later in the match in the 58th and 61st minute to give her a hat trick and her 10th goal of the season. The defense held strong, only allowing four shots all game.Czyz said Senior Day allowed her to reflect on her Rice career and the improvements she has seen in the soccer program. “For us, this is a very special day, and I’m so happy [the seniors] have made it this far and been so successful,” Czyz said. “Getting the big win and the shutout was the perfect way to cap [Senior Day] off, and we just hope we are leaving the program in better hands than when we got it here.” Head Coach Nicky Adams said the seniors have served as great examples for the rest of team and have helped lead the team to its success this season.“[Our seniors] bring so much leadership, and they truly love Rice,” Adams said. “Every day they come out and give us everything they have. It’s just contagious when you have great seniors who truly believe in what we’re doing … obviously the team is going to follow.” On Sunday afternoon, the Owls continued their two-game winning streak, scoring four more goals and winning 4-1. Hughes scored the opening goal of the game off of a deflection in the sixth minute to give the Owls an early lead. Iribarne followed that up with a 35th minute goal to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. Iribarne added another goal in the 71st minute off a cross from junior midfielder Danielle Spriggs. The Owls’ victory earned them a 6-0-2 home record to complement their 10-3-3 (6-2-1 C-USA) season thus far. The current squad has the top two goal-scorers in Rice history in Hargreaves and Hughes, and the all-time leader in shutouts in Czyz. Adams said she was satisfied with the way the team played this past weekend to stay in second place in C-USA.“I was pleased with the way our possession was all weekend and [our] ability to find the back of the net, scoring nine goals in one weekend,” Adams said. “I love how we played as one unit on both sides of the ball.” Looking forward, Adams said the Owls have hopes of entering the NCAA tournament by winning the C-USA tournament or receiving an at-large bid. “This team is so hungry and definitely want[s] to make [the NCAA tournament],” Adams said. “If we are peaking right now, this is the perfect time and we are excited for what is coming up.” Iribarne said she hopes she and the rest of the senior class have been role models for the younger players. “I think this season has been great,” Iribarne said. “[We] know our teammates look up to us [and] we look up to them, so it’s a full circle and we work hard out there for each other.” Rice will play their final game of the season on the road Thursday, Oct. 30 against the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Rice is currently tied for second place in C-USA and has clinched a berth in the upcoming C-USA tournament beginning Nov. 5, in Charlotte, North Carolina.


SPORTS 10/28/14 11:08am

Football earns fourth consecutive victory

The Rice University football team defeated the University of North Texas 41-21 Saturday, Oct. 25 and improved its record to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Conference USA, giving the Owls their fourth-consecutive victory. Rice scored on the first offensive play of the game with an 88-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Driphus Jackson to senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor, tying the record for the longest-scoring play in school history. Rice and UNT exchanged scores for the remainder of the first quarter, ending the opening period tied at 14 points apiece. UNT scored the only touchdown of the second quarter and carried a 21-14 lead heading into halftime.The Owls came out of halftime and scored 27 unanswered points to secure the 41-21 victory. The Rice defense held UNT to only 45 yards of offense in the second half, helping Rice to its 10th home victory in its last 11 home games.Rice’s offense, led by Jackson, totaled 233 passing yards and 188 rushing yards in the game. Jackson completed 13 of 26 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard combined for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor led the team in receiving, recording 137 yards on four catches and becoming the fourth player in school history to surpass 2,000 career receiving yards.Taylor said the team’s offensive success in the second half was due to the offensive line’s performance and the team’s ability to adjust to UNT’s defense.“All year long the [offensive line] has been the focal point of our offense, and this week North Texas made it really hard for us to go in there and run the ball, that’s just what they do,” Taylor said. “Our offensive line did a heck of a job. They kind of struggled in the first half, we all did as an offense, but we picked it up in the second half and made things happen when we needed to.”Rice’s defense held UNT to 216 yards in the second half, the best defensive performance of the season and 133 yards below UNT’s season average. Less than five minutes into the third quarter, junior cornerback Ryan Pollard intercepted a pass from UNT quarterback Andrew McNulty and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Owls their first defensive score of the season.Head Coach David Bailiff said the quick defensive start in the second half was attributed to the attitude and strategic changes that occurred during halftime.“Even in the locker room, you’re down 21 to 14, and the defense is talking about getting a takeaway, scoring a touchdown on defense,” Bailiff said. “And it was almost like everything said in that locker room at halftime… that third quarter was almost prophesied in the locker room.” Pollard said his interception return for a touchdown was a crucial component of Rice’s defensive effort contributing to the victory. “Any time I get the ball [on a pick], I tell myself in my head that I’m taking it all the way back,” Pollard said. “I knew in the back of my head that I was going to take it all the way back and give us a spark and get us going.”According to Jackson, the defensive effort, particularly Pollard’s defensive score early in the second half, was the most important component of the team’s win.“I think [the defense] was the focal point; they set the tone for us and we kind of just fed off of them,” Jackson said. “It’s amazing how Coach Bailiff always talks about how we’re going to need each other, and it resonated in this game because in the first half we had a really big play on the first play, and after that we were just stagnant. We weren’t really able to get anything going all the way up to the second half, so for the defense to come out and get us a turnover at that time was very crucial.”Bailiff said he was proud of the team’s resiliency and determination to win in the face of adversity.“[I’m] just so proud of this football team, the way they fought and played for four quarters,” Bailiff said. “Even when things weren’t going [well], all you heard were guys talking about what they were going to do the next time they were out there, what they’re going to do for the next play, what they’re going to do for the team.”The Owls recorded four sacks and nine tackles for loss, led by junior defensive lineman Christian Covington, who recorded one and a half sacks in the game. Covington said the dominance of the defensive line in the second half allowed the defense to have fun playing football while also helping the team win.“It was a great defensive effort, especially in the second half,” Covington said. “To be on the field during that time brings back memories of childhood, just being able to have fun playing football. I’m happy with this defense and I’m so excited for this team to get a win like that.”Rice will look to earn its fifth-straight victory against Florida International University on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Miami, Florida. FIU currently boasts a 3-5 record, including a 2-4 record against Division 1 opponents. FIU is coming off a 45-13 loss to Marshall University and has the 107th ranked offense in the country, totalling an average of 21.5 points per game. A victory would improve the Owls’ record to 5-3 and 3-1 in conference and would put them one win away from bowl eligibility. The game against FIU will kick off at 11 a.m. in Miami, Florida.


SPORTS 10/26/14 12:02pm

Football defeats North Texas

The Rice University football team defeated the University of North Texas 41-21 Saturday, Oct.  25 and improved its record to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Conference USA, giving the Owls their fourth consecutive victory.Facing off against the Mean Green, the Owls were seeking their fourth consecutive victory and second straight conference win. Rice scored on the first offensive play of the game on an 88 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Driphus Jackson to senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor, tying the record for the longest scoring play in school history. Rice and North Texas would exchange scores for the remainder of the first quarter, ending the opening period tied at 14 points apiece. North Texas scored the only touchdown of the second quarter and carried a 21-14 lead heading into halftime.The Owls came out of halftime and scored 27 unanswered points to secure the 41-21 victory. The Rice defense held North Texas to only 45 yards of offense in the second half, helping Rice to its 10th home victory in its last 11 home games.Rice’s offense, led by Jackson, totaled 233 passing yards and 188 rushing yards in the game. Jackson completed 13 of 26 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown while sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard combined for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor led the team in receiving, recording 137 yards on four catches and becoming the fourth player in school history to surpass 2,000 career receiving yards.Rice’s defense highlighted the team’s winning effort, particularly in the second half, holding North Texas to 216 yards, the best defensive performance of the season and 133 yards below North Texas’s season average.Less than five minutes into the third quarter, junior cornerback Ryan Pollard intercepted a pass from North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Owls their first defensive score of the season.Pollard said the score was a crucial component of Rice’s defensive effort contributing to the victory."Any time I get the ball [on a pick], I tell myself in my head that I'm taking it all the way back," Pollard said. "I knew in the back of my head that I was going to take it all the way back and give us a spark and get us going."The Owls recorded four sacks and nine tackles for loss, led by junior defensive lineman Christian Covington, who recorded one and a half sacks in the game.Rice will look to earn its fifth straight victory against Florida International University on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Miami, FL. FIU currently boasts a 3-5 record, including a 2-4 record against Division-1 opponents. FIU is coming off a 45-13 loss to Marshall University and has the 107th ranked offense in the country, totalling an average of 21.5 points per game. A victory would improve the Owls’ record to 5-3 and 3-1 in conference and would put them one win away from bowl eligibility.The game against FIU will kick off at 11 a.m. CST in Miami, FL.


SPORTS 10/21/14 4:21pm

Club baseball player ascends to varsity team

Despite not being recruited out of high school, Sanjiv Gopalkrishnan has found his way onto Rice University’s varsity baseball team.Gopalkrishnan, a McMurtry College sophomore, played catcher in high school and continued on to play for the Rice club baseball team. After playing for the club team last year, Gopalkrishnan was elected president of the team before the school year and played with the club team through the first month of the year. After the varsity team’s catchers sustained multiple injuries, however, Gopalkrishnan was given the opportunity to join the varsity team. According to Gopalkrishnan, the opportunity came from the team’s injury situation as well as his relationship with coaches and players.“The story is that one week they had two freshmen catchers get hurt,” Gopalkrishnan said. “Because I made friends with some people on the team last year, they said, ‘Hey, Sanjiv can catch, he’s on the club team, give him a call and I’m sure he’ll do it.’ So Coach [Patrick] Hallmark called me and he asked if I could come out, and the rest is history.”Gopalkrishnan also said he credits his rise to the friendships he made with the varsity team athletes last season.“The first person who recommended me was Michael Aquino, who is a fifth-year student now,” Gopalkrishnan said. “J.C. [Reeves], who was actually one of the catchers who got hurt also backed him up, and Connor Teykl as well.”Since being called up to the varsity team, which lost last season in the regional round of the postseason, Gopalkrishnan has had to adjust to the gap in playing ability and commitment. “[The difference in] skill level is huge,” Gopalkrishnan said. “With club, sometimes last year it was a struggle to get nine guys on the field, whereas for varsity there’s backups for every position and everyone is skilled enough to start. Just in terms of velocities, it’s expected that you throw 85 to 90 [miles per hour], whereas the fastest guy we have for club throws 78.”Although he has joined the varsity team for the fall, Gopalkrishnan understands his role on the team. According to Gopalkrishnan, his responsibility will be to help in practice and make sure pitchers are warmed up before they enter a game. “I see myself being in a purely supporting role,” Gopalkrishnan said. “I don’t expect to play much, if at all. I expect to catch in the bullpen. I don’t even know if I’m on the team for the spring, but for the fall, I’m catching bullpen. I get to play in the intrasquad scrimmage though, which is really cool.”Despite not starting nor earning significant playing time, Gopalkrishnan has embraced the new position with open arms. Even though his chances of earning a roster spot on the team in spring are slim, Gopalkrishnan said he knows he’ll always be viewed as a member of the team.“Michael [Aquino] told me that once you’re on the team, it’s like a fraternity,” Gopalkrishnan said. “They’re always looking out for you — they’re basically your brothers. At first, I got some weird looks, but now I’m definitely part of the team. They all welcome me, and I’m sure that, even if I’m not practicing during the spring, if they see me in the stands they’ll all appreciate me being there and supporting them.”Although he has spent most of the time this season catching in the bullpen, Gopalkrishnan has gained playing experience in intrasquad and competitive situations. Gopalkrishnan earned his first career hit as a Division I athlete on Wednesday, Oct. 15 in an intrasquad scrimmage. Gopalkrishnan is now 1-3 batting in the fall season with an RBI.


SPORTS 10/21/14 4:20pm

Football prepares for North Texas following three-game win streak

Coming off a bye week and riding a three-game winning streak, the Rice University football team (3-3, 1-1 C-USA) returns home this weekend to face the University of North Texas.Despite starting off the season with three consecutive losses, the Owls have rebounded to even their record midway through the season. After averaging 23 points per game across the three losses, the Owls have averaged nearly 37 points per game over the past three games while holding their opponents to just over 19 points per game.UNT (2-5, 0-3 C-USA) is currently riding a three-game losing streak, losing by an average of 23 points to Indiana University, the University of Alabama, Birmingham and the University of Southern Mississippi, which Rice defeated 41-23 on Sept. 27.Both teams feature low-ranked defenses, however, as the Mean Green have the 96th-ranked defense, giving up an average of 32 points per game, while the Owls have the 93rd-ranked defense, sacrificing 31.5 points per game.Junior quarterback Driphus Jackson has shown improvement over the past three games as well, throwing for 635 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. The increased offensive productivity can be attributed in part to the return of all-conference senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor, who, after not playing in the first three games, has caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games.Rice’s rushing offense has continued to produce yardage and points through sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard, who have rushed for 924 yards and eight touchdowns on the year combined. The UNT game will be the third Conference USA matchup of the year for the Owls. Rice began the conference schedule by losing to Old Dominion University 45-42, then defeating Southern Miss in Mississippi. A victory against UNT would help the Owls in their attempt to repeat last season’s conference championship, as the Owls are currently tied for second place in the C-USA West Division with the University of Texas, El Paso.The game against UNT will kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25 in Rice Stadium.


SPORTS 10/21/14 4:19pm

Soccer splits weekend series in Florida

The Rice University soccer team traveled to South Florida this past weekend and split two games against Conference USA opponents. The first weekend game featured a 2-1 loss to Florida International University, followed by a 3-2 victory against Florida Atlantic University. Rice is 8-3-3 on the season with a 4-2-1 C-USA record. The Panthers held Rice scoreless for nearly the entire match, and scored in the 55th minute, giving them a 1-0 advantage midway through the second half. In the 89th minute, however, Rice senior forward Lauren Hughes scored the tying goal with 43 seconds on the clock remaining to send the teams into overtime. Just seven minutes into overtime, FIU found the back of the net to clinch the win. On Sunday afternoon, Rice beat FAU 3-2. By the 16th minute of play, Rice had already taken a 3-0 advantage from goals by junior midfielder Danielle Spriggs, Hughes and freshman midfielder Samantha Chaiken. However, FAU continued to chip away at the Rice lead by scoring two goals by the 60th minute. Rice was outshot 11-4 in the second half but found a way to hang on and secure the 3-2 victory. Head Coach Nicky Adams said she was disappointed with the team’s performance in Friday night’s loss against FIU, but satisfied with the win against FAU.“Our Friday night performance was the first game [I felt] our entire team did not play well,” Adams said. “We couldn’t get over them, couldn’t play our style of game and struggled as a unit. However, I’m proud of our team for rebounding well with three goals on Sunday.” According to Adams, the upcoming home games are critical to the team’s success, particularly with only three regular-season games remaining. “We now have two home games against [Old Dominion University] and [the University of North Carolina, Charlotte], which are our last two home games,” Adams said. “We’ll be ready to go … and still have nine points to earn to close out our C-USA season.” Hughes said the lower level of play the Owls have had over the past three matches has concerned her, but she is happy to see her team return to its winning ways after the FAU game. “We definitely had a bit of a slump where we didn’t play Rice soccer and allowed the other teams to dictate the way we were playing,” Hughes said. “I think our team’s ability to bounce back from the slump shows the grit we have … and I’m extremely excited that we are back to playing our game.”Spriggs said the game against FAU helped the team return to form and focus on finishing the season strong. “At FAU, we got back to what makes us a great team, and hopefully we carry that with us the rest of the season,” Spriggs said. “We have three games left in Conference, and winning all three of those is really important. We’re excited to go [out and] take care of business.”The Owls return home this weekend for the final two home games of the season. The Owls will compete against Old Dominion University Friday at 7 p.m for Senior Night and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte Sunday at noon. With three games left in Conference play, the Owls are tied for second place and are looking to catch up to the University of North Texas, who currently leads the conference by one game.



SPORTS 10/15/14 5:52pm

Football defeats Army

The Rice University football team defeated the Army Black Knights 41-21 to improve to 3-3 overall. After a first quarter that finished with a tie, Rice managed to outscore Army 17-7 and 14-7 in the second and third quarters, respectively. Army was held scoreless in the final quarter.


SPORTS 10/7/14 4:54pm

Basketball prepares for season

After the Rice University basketball team went 12-48 over the last two seasons, the athletic department hired Mike Rhoades, a former head coach at Randolph-Macon College and former assistant head coach for the Virginia Commonwealth University team, which made it to the Final Four in 2011, to be its new head coach. Rhoades helped guide VCU to a 26-9 record last season and a spot in the NCAA Tournament and is instituting his own system and training regimen, which includes the same training that the Navy SEALs go through.


SPORTS 10/7/14 4:53pm

Soccer snaps unbeaten streak

The Rice University soccer team headed out on the road this past weekend to face two more Conference USA opponents. On Friday, the Owls defeated the University of Texas, San Antonio 3-0. Rice then traveled to face off against the University of Texas, El Paso on Sunday; the Owls lost to the Miners 1-0 in overtime. The Owls are now 7-2-2 on the season and second overall in C-USA with a 3-1 conference record.



SPORTS 10/7/14 4:51pm

Volleyball Continues Success

Last week, the Rice University volleyball team won three consecutive matches against conference opponents. On Wednesday, the Owls faced off against the University of North Texas, winning 3-1. The Owls then bested the University of Texas, El Paso and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte at home on Friday and Sunday, respectively.


SPORTS 10/7/14 4:51pm

Conference assist leader credits team

Redshirt sophomore Sara Blasier, Rice University’s all-conference setter, has been playing volleyball for most of her life. Now midway into her second season on the team, Blasier is the Conference USA’s leading assister and has the fourth-most assists in the country.



SPORTS 10/1/14 9:59am

Rice Rugby Club looks to continue success on the field

Rice University Rugby opened its fall 2014 season with a victory over Stephen F. Austin State University, winning 24-22. The rugby team is not unaccustomed to success, however. Last season, the team finished as the runners-up in the state of Texas. Rice defeated Sam Houston State University in the semifinals of the Texas Cup 53-22, and then suffered a loss to St. Edward’s University in the championship match.



SPORTS 10/1/14 9:57am

Soccer outscores opponents 10-0

The Rice University soccer team (6-1-2, 2-0 C-USA) played at home this past weekend to open their 2014 Conference USA schedule. The Owls took two more victories to add to their streak of unbeaten matches, which now stands at eight games. Rice defeated the University of Southern Mississippi 4-0 at home on Friday night. The Owls followed up that performance with a 6-0 defeat over Louisiana Tech University, in which junior Holly Hargreaves scored four goals.


SPORTS 10/1/14 9:56am

Volleyball splits weekend games

The Rice University women’s volleyball team (11-5) won one game and lost another this past weekend. The Owls gained a 3-0 victory against the University of Southern Mississippi while in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Friday Sept. 26. After the shutout victory, the team traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky, only to fall 3-2 in a close match against Western Kentucky University.



SPORTS 9/24/14 8:06am

Rice comeback falls just short against Old Dominion

The Rice University football team fell short in their comeback attempt against Old Dominion University in front of 17,588 spectators on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Rice Stadium. Despite making a 21-point comeback culminating in a game-tying touchdown with just over a minute remaining, the Rice football team could not overcome the Monarchs.