HUNTINGTON, WVa — Junior Lianne Mananquil
registered assists on a pair of goals scored early in each half to lead the Rice soccer team to a 2-1 Conference USA road at Marshall Friday evening in Huntington, West Virginia.
With the win Rice improved to 5-7-0 overall and 3-3-0 (9 points) in C-USA action. Marshall fell to 5-7-2 on the season and 3-4-0 against the league.
Mananquil was the catalyst behind both Rice goals that were scored soon after each half got under way. In the third minute, the junior from Jacksonville, Fla., served a cross to red-hot Erin Mikeska. Mikeska, who had scored twice in the Owls' 3-0 C-USA win over LA Tech on Sunday, found the back of the Marshall net with a header. Her fourth goal of the season gave Rice a 1-0 lead on the very first shot recorded in the game.
The narrow 1-0 margin held to half. Rice then opened the second period with a goal in the 47th minute. Mananquil played to senior Annie Walker at the top of the box, who chipped a shot over the Thundering Herd goalkeeper for a 2-0 lead with her second goal of the season.
Marshall, however, would not go away so easily at home. The Thundering Herd continued to apply offensive pressure and pulled to within one with a goal in the 59th minute. Rice true freshman goalkeeper Bella Killgore finished the night with four saves and the Owls hung on for a road victory at a place that's as tough to get to as it is to win. It was in fact Rice's first time to win at Marshall since 2007.
"This one was exhausting because Marshall played so well," said Rice head coach Nicky Adams. "It was a very tough game, and I am so proud of the team for getting the job done tonight. Earlier this season we would have let a good team that was playing well end up getting the better of us. We've been working hard to finish games, and tonight shows our progress from the first part of the year.
"We wanted to get both halves off to a good start and we did that," Adams explained. "I think scoring early in each half was extremely crucial. It was a great game by Lianne tonight in the middle of the field. Marissa Topolski created a lot of offensive chances, and that ends-up freeing other players to get open and take shots. I thought Trinity King came up big on the backline. We missed her the first half of the season and getting her back has helped make a difference.
"It was important for us to play well," Adams added. "I am proud of the team. They came in here and got a win over a good conference opponent on the road."
The Owls' weekend road swing concludes Sunday (Oct. 14) at Western Kentucky. Start time is set for 1 pm in Bowling Green, Ky.