<b>The Owls open C-USA action Friday night.</b>

Women's Soccer

Soccer Team Hosts Tulsa Friday Night In C-USA Opener

Sept. 22, 2010

THIS WEEK'S GAMES: The Rice soccer team, 3-5-0 to start the year, begins the critical part of the season with the opening of Conference USA action this weekend at home. The Owls host longtime rivals Tulsa and SMU at the Rice Soccer Stadium on Sept. 24 & Sept. 26, respectively. Start time for Friday's match vs. Tulsa is slated for 7 pm. Sunday's clash with SMU begins at 1 pm.

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

CATCH THE HOME GAMES LIVE ON OWLVISION ALL-ACCESS: Both C-USA soccer games this weekend are scheduled for a live broadcast on OwlVision All-Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which provides a live video and audio feed on the Internet. Join broadcaster Court Jackson (Hanszen '08) for the Rice call of home soccer games this season. More information for watching Rice sports is at the same All-Access Soccer Link (provided above).

FIVE-GAME HOMESTAND: The Owls are in the midst of a lengthy five-game homestand lasting until Oct. 3. Each of the team's first four C-USA games this season are scheduled to be played at the Rice Soccer Stadium as part of the current homestand. The Blue & Gray hosts UTEP and Colorado College next week.

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 the forward tandem of senior Korey Taylor and junior Hope Ward. Rice boasts two experienced goalkeepers with the senior duo of Meghan Erkel and Catherine Fitzsimmons. The Owls are currently without senior midfielder Kate Edwards due to an injury. Edwards leads the team in goals (3) and had been the team leader in shots.

DID YOU KNOW? More than 1,000 fans came out to Rice's home game against No. 9 BYU on Sept. 18. The 1,047 vocal fans gave the Owls their largest home-attended game since 2003.

RICE SOCCER TURNS TEN: 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. Rice signed its first recruiting class in the spring of 2001 and was on the field and playing by August 31 that same year. In an electric on-campus atmosphere, the program won its debut match by defeating Army 3-2 at home.

NICKY ADAMS SERVING AS INTERIM HEAD COACH: Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan announced on Sept. 15 that Nicky Adams would serve as the Owls' Interim Head Soccer Coach, and that she would remain in that role for the remainder of the season. Adams joined the soccer staff in January of 2003 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2006. She replaced former head coach Chris Huston, who started the Rice program in 2001... Adams, a former All-America soccer player and 2001 graduate of Texas A&M, made her debut as the Owls' interim head coach on Sept. 18... She is assisted by coach John Adams (Cincinnati, 2003), who is in his first year with the team.

PREVIOUS OUTING: Owls Fall To No. 9 BYU, 1-0 (Sept. 18)
HOUSTON - The No. 9 ranked BYU soccer team scored the lone goal of the game in the closing minutes of the first half and battled in the second to claim a narrow 1-0 win over the Rice Owls before a vocal, season-high crowd of 1,047 Sept. 18 at the Rice Soccer Stadium... The Owls' week began like no other week in the 10-year history of the program and still had powerhouse BYU waiting at the end. It was Rice, however, that set the tone early against the Top 10 opponent by taking five of the first eight shots along with three solid chances on corner kicks in the game's first 30 minutes. The Blue & Gray was stride-for-stride with a Cougar team that was undefeated and had already claimed victories over two Top 20 teams... "I've never been more proud of these girls," said Rice Interim Head Coach Nicky Adams. "To come out here and give everything they could with as much heart and passion, and with a tremendous amount of teamwork from all ends, was just phenomenal. When you have a ranked opponent coming on to your home turf you have to play hard from the moment the whistle blows. We talked about how we have to set the tempo right from the beginning. I thought our back line did an excellent job of clearing away threats when they need to, and finding our open player in the midfield to go forward," she added. "BYU has some very good athletes and is ranked for a reason. We were right there. I know we can build on a game like this."... As time was ticking away to what looked like might be a scoreless first half, BYU made the most of an opportunity to find the back of the Rice net. In the 44th minute Auna Doria brought the ball toward the Owl goal from the left end-line and passed it backward to her teammate Lynda Hercules. The freshman forward from Plano, Tex., converted on a quick shot attempt from close range to score what proved to be the game-winning goal... Rice senior keeper Meghan Erkel started in goal and responded with six saves. The Owls were led in shots by true freshman Jessica Howard's three attempts, including two on-goal. The Owls were resilient playing without the services of standout midfielder Kate Edwards, the team's leading scorer who has been sidelined with an injury. Prior to this week Edwards had started every game in her Rice career, a total of 65-straight dating back to her freshman season of 2007 for the eighth-longest total in school history. Not only is she the team's leading scorer this season, the Westlake Village, Calif., native is the team's active leader in career goals with 19 (4th all-time), third in career shots (158), and tied for sixth with five in game-winning goals... With the Owls in striking distance due to playing hard and together, the team needed only three subs for the duration of the contest. Six Rice players, including Erkel, Hope Ward and Julia Barrow, as well as starting defenders Lauren LaGro, Amy Beger and Hayley Williams, played the full 90 minutes... "We're tired, but it's a good kind of tired because we know we gave it our all," said Ward. The junior forward from Kingwood, Tex., had a shot after a corner kick go just high in the 29th minute, and another strike deflected by a Cougar defender in the 58th minute. "We've been through a lot and I think we just wanted to play soccer tonight."... BYU finished the contest with a 15-8 lead in shots and held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks. The Owls fell to 3-5-0 on the season while the Cougars improved to 7-0-1.

ON TULSA: There are two talented C-USA teams to contend with this weekend... Tulsa enters Friday's showdown with a 5-3 record and a solid 2.12 goals-per-game average. The Golden Hurricane pepper opponents with 17.8 shots per game, and surrender an austere 7.8 shot attempts the other way. It's a young TU team that is already hit the ground running. Of Tulsa's 17 goals this season, six have been scored by sophomores and 10 have been scored by freshmen.

THE TULSA SERIES: Rice leads the all-time series with Tulsa 5-4 overall, but every year has been a close battle. In fact, five of the last six meetings have ended in narrow 1-0 margins and the difference of every Rice-Tulsa game since 2001 has been by just one goal. Each of the last two contests was decided in overtime, including once at each school's home field. The Owls hold a 3-1 advantage over TU when playing in Houston and have not lost at home since 2002.

ON SMU: SMU has also posted five victories and consider that the only teams to defeat the Mustangs so far are No. 5 ranked Portland and No. 15 Oklahoma State. Not only has the SMU defense smothered opponents with four shutouts, the offense features a versatile attack. Nine different Mustangs on the roster have already scored goals. SMU plays across town at the University of Houston on Friday before meeting Rice on Sunday.

THE SMU SERIES: Rice has faced SMU a total of 11 times since 2001, the second-highest total against one opponent. Friday's meeting is the 12th in the series and that will tie (with UTEP) for the most times that Rice has faced an opposing team. The Blue & Gray is 2-9 against SMU, including a 1-0 loss to the Ponies a year ago in Dallas. Rice's lone home win over SMU was a 2-1 thriller in 2008.

THREE OWLS GARNER CAL ALL-TOURNEY HONORS: Three Owls, Julia Barrow, Kate Edwards and Annie Kadota, were named to the California Invitational All-Tournament Team on Sept. 3-5. All three of the Owls are California natives. Kadota and Edwards scored goals to help lead Rice to a 2-1 overtime victory against San Francisco on Sunday. Barrow played a total of 175 minutes in the midfield in the Owls' two weekend games.

WHEN FIRST GOALS ARE ALSO GAME-WINNERS: True freshman Jessica Howard scored her first career Rice goal Aug. 22 vs. Stephen F. Austin with a textbook bicycle kick in front of the visitor's net. The goal proved to be even more dramatic because it also was officially the game-winning goal. Howard became only the 12th 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. Current sophomore Julia Barrow's first goal in 2009 was also a game-winner (on the road at Stephen F. Austin).

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.

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.

M*A*S*H UNIT: 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. Rice has also played without injured players Megan Aultman, Kasey McKenny and Marie Hunnell.

OTHER C-USA ACTION: All the Conference USA teams are going head-to-head this weekend. The league's weekend slate is as follows:

Friday (Sept. 24)
Marshall at Southern Miss, 4 pm
(18) Memphis at Colorado College, 5 pm
East Carolina at UCF, 6 pm
SMU at Houston, 7 pm
Tulsa at Rice, 7 pm
UAB at UTEP, 8 pm

Sunday (Sept. 26)
Marshall at UCF, Noon
East Carolina at Southern Miss, 1 pm
Tulsa at Houston, 1 pm
SMU at Rice, 1 pm
(18) Memphis at UTEP, 2 pm
UAB at Colorado College, 3 pm

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