<b>Heads-up! The Rice soccer season starts Friday (Aug. 20) in Waco.</b>

Women's Soccer

Rice Soccer Opens 10th Anniversary Season Friday At Baylor; Owls Host SFA Sunday Night

Aug. 17, 2010

THIS WEEK: The Rice soccer team opens the 2010 season, its tenth anniversary year as a varsity program, with a pair of games this weekend (Aug. 20-22). The season-opener is set for this Friday (Aug. 20) on the road at longtime rival Baylor. Start time is slated for 7 pm at the Betty Lou Mays Soccer Stadium in Waco, Tex. The Owls play their 2010 home-opener on Sunday (Aug. 22). The opening kick with the Lady Jacks is slated for 6 pm at the Rice Soccer & Track Stadium.

RICE SOCCER TURNS TEN: Time sure flies when you're having fun. After starting the team from scratch and taking the field for the first time in on 2001, the Owls' soccer program is celebrating its 10th anniversary season in 2010. The Blue & Gray signed its first recruiting class in the spring of 2001 and was on the field by August 31 that same year. In an electric on-campus atmosphere, Rice soccer won the program's debut match, defeating Army 3-2 at home.

GOING FIRST: The soccer team is the first Owl squad to get intercollegiate competition underway for the 2010 fall semester. The Rice volleyball team gets its season underway on Aug. 27, men's cross country begins on Sept. 3 and the football team kicks-off on Sept. 4.

EARLIEST START EVER: The Aug. 20 start date is the earliest opening day for soccer in school history. It tops the previous record set last season by one day (Aug. 21, 2009).

CATCH THE HOME-OPENER LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: Sunday night's soccer home-opener vs. Stephen F. Austin is slated for a live broadcast on OwlVision All-Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which provides a live video feed on the Internet. The video is live on the web, but it is also available in an archived format on the All-Access page. More information for watching Rice sports is at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).

LIVE IN-GAME STATS: Live in-game statistics for all Rice matches are posted on the web. At the start of the game go to the live stats link at the top of this page, or on the home page of RiceOwls.com, and follow a text play-by-play of the action.

QUICK ON THE OWLS: The 2010 Rice soccer team features 15 letterwinners, including four regular starters, from last season's team that went 6-10-3. A total of nine newcomers are on the roster, eight of which are freshmen from the club and high school ranks. The Blue & Gray has some experienced players in key spots, such as senior Kate Edwards in the midfield, senior Korey Taylor on defense, and junior Hope Ward up top. Rice boasts two experienced goalkeepers with the senior tandem of Meghan Erkel and Catherine Fitzsimmons.

OPENERS: Rice is 5-2-2 in season-openers. The Blue and Gray has an unbeaten streak in its last six season-openers, including a 1-0 win over 25th-ranked Auburn in 2005. The Owls tied Baylor1-1 in its 2009 season- and home-opener. Rice also tied McNeese State on the road by a score of 2-2 in its 2007 season-opener. The Owls are 5-2-2 in their seven home-openers. The team is undefeated (3-0-1) when the season-opener is also the home-opener.

HOME SWEET HOME: Playing at home is good news for the Owls. In 82 games played on campus at the Soccer & Track Stadium, Rice owns an all-time record of 52-23-7 (.677). The Blue & Gray was among the C-USA leaders in home attendance by averaging 454 fans per game.

THE BAYLOR SERIES: Rice and regional foe Baylor have been going head-to-head in different intercollegiate sports for a years, but Friday's meeting is only the second soccer clash for the longtime rivals since 2004. Baylor leads the all-time series 2-0-2, including a 1-1 deadlock last season in a rainy night in Houston. Each of the last three Rice-Baylor meetings have gone into overtime.

THE SFA SERIES: Rice leads the all-time series with SFA 4-0-0. A year ago the Owls claimed a heart-stopping, come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory over SFA in piney woods of Nacogdoches, Tex.

HEAD COACH CHRIS HUSTON: Now with her tenth Rice team from the soccer program she started from scratch, Chris Huston has guided the Owls to an established spot alongside the more experienced teams in the state of Texas and the NCAA. Her won-loss record at Rice is 88-74-13. The two-time Western Athletic Conference coach of the year owns a career college coaching record of 110-90-15. The former standout at the University of North Carolina served as the head coach at the University of Houston for two years after starting that program in 1998. Huston owns a career C-USA regular season record of 40-27-4. She is aided by associate head coach Nicky Adams (Texas A&M, 2001; eighth year) and new assistant coach John Adams (Cincinnati, 2003; first year).

DID YOU KNOW? This is the Owls' tenth varsity soccer team since starting the program in 2001, but this is coach Huston's eleventh year with Rice University. She was hired by the school to begin the soccer program a full year before the new team was slated to take the field.

PREVIOUS OUTING: COLLEGE STATION, Tex. -- The Rice soccer team fell to eighth-ranked Texas A&M 3-0 in a season-opening exhibition on Aug. 14 (Sat.) in College Station, Tex... The friendly allowed the team to see different players in a host of combinations, against a talented Aggie squad that is ranked No. 8 in the country. After two quick A&M goals in the first half, Rice settled down with more than 47 scoreless minutes before the Aggies' third and final goal of the game. It was the lone score the Owls allowed in the second stanza¡­ Rice head coach Chris Huston certainly wants the team to get focused on winning, but there's also still a lot to learn in the preseason about 2010's young Owl squad. On Saturday Huston used seven new starters, including three freshmen Jessica Howard, Hayley Williams and Alexandra Trenary (with two of the three on defense). A total of 18 players, including five freshmen, all gained experience with significant action in College Station... The Owls finished with a total of ten shots, including six on-goal. Junior forward Hope Ward paced the Blue & Gray with four shot attempts. Two veteran Rice keepers split playing time in-goal, with the senior tandem of Meghan Erkel and Catherine Fitzsimmons taking the first and second halves, respectively... "It doesn't matter if it's an exhibition, every time we step on the field we're looking for a win," Rice head coach Chris Huston said after the match. "We didn't get that result, but I did see a lot of positives and definitely some things we can build on. We had a whole new back line tonight that was playing together for the first time. Not one of them had ever played together in a game situation, and that was part of the problem in leading to the two quick goals. As the game went on though they got a little more comfortable with each other, we started to click and we got better¡­ We had some individuals step up and play well," Huston added. "Hope Ward got in there and took shots. That's what we want her and the forwards to do. We played a lot of freshmen in the game and sure, there had to be some nerves. When we settled down though, and kept the ball and passed, it was very encouraging. Texas A&M is a very good team," she said. "They're ranked where they are for a reason and we knew we were going to need a good work-rate tonight. Overall I thought we had that, now let's be consistent about it and keep that work-rate at a high level for 90 minutes. If we do that good things are going to happen. I think we can do it, and the girls think they can. I am excited about this season."

STEADY "EDDIE'S" STARTING STREAK & CAREER GAMES PLAYED: Senior midfielder Kate Edwards has been in the starting lineup for all 59 games Rice has played dating back to her freshman season of 2007. Edwards is tied for tenth on Rice's all-time list for career starts, and needs to start against Baylor for sole possession of tenth place ahead of Owl great Beth Martin. She needs four more starts to tie Erin Scott for ninth place, but Edwards has never not started. It's one of the longest streaks on campus, but NOT affiliated with Baker College!

FOR THE RECORD: With every save, every win and every minute played by goalkeeper Meghan Erkel, the senior sets a new Rice career record. The veteran Erkel is the reigning Owl record holder for career saves (245), wins (26) and minutes played (4,866:20).

WE'VE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO...­: The 2009 soccer season was already over when it was announced last spring, but in case you missed it, Rice midfielder Elizabeth Nesbit was named the 2010 Conference USA Spirit of Service Award winner for the sport of women's soccer. Nesbit, a senior from Waterford, Va., earned the prestigious honor from the league office for her superior charity and volunteer service efforts over every other women's soccer player in the conference. Known simply as "Z" by her teammates, Nesbit performed volunteer service including, but not limited to, working with a medical team in Malawi, Africa, prior to the start of the 2009 soccer season. She helped provide medical aid to children in rural and often isolated parts Malawi, and her humanitarian efforts made her an easy choice for the league's Spirit of Service Award last spring.

ROLL OUT THE BARROW: With her game-winning goal at Stephen F. Austin last season, (then freshman) Julia Barrow became only the 11th player in school history to record a game-winning goal with her first career goal. Two Owls, current juniors Annie Kadota and Hope Ward, accomplished the feat as freshmen two years ago and Erin Scott did the same as a freshman in 2006.

JUST FOR KICKS: Fans will once again have a chance to get some extra insight to the Owls' soccer team via RiceOwls.com. Over the course of the season the players will be featured one-by-one in a question & answer segment titled "Just For Kicks." Fans can check out the feature at the link at the top of this page.

SIMMONS SIDELINED: True freshman forward/defender Cortney Simmons has been sidelined for the season. Simmons is one of the gems of the Owls' highly-touted recruiting class from the recent spring signing period.

OTHER C-USA ACTION: All the Conference USA teams are in action this weekend. The league/s season-opening weekend slate is as follows:
Friday (Aug. 20)
Memphis at Saint Louis, 5 pm
East Carolina at UNC©\Greensboro, 6 pm
Rice at Baylor, 7 pm
Florida International at SMU, 7 pm
Vanderbilt at UAB, 7 pm
Northwestern State at Tulsa, 7:35 pm
UTEP at New Mexico State, 8 pm

Sunday (Aug. 22)
Marshall at Cleveland State, Noon
Francis Marion at East Carolina, 1 pm
Northern Arizona at UTEP, 2 pm
Arkansas-Little Rock at Tulsa, 3:30 pm
Southern Miss at SE Louisiana, 4 pm
Samford at Memphis, 6 pm
Stephen F. Austin at Rice, 6 pm
Alabama at UAB, 6 pm
Sam Houston at Houston, 7 pm
Florida at UCF, 7 pm

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