Friday’s conference opener between the Rice and UTEP women’s soccer teams didn’t include any goals for the first 70 minutes.
So naturally Rice won the match by scoring twice in a little over 70 seconds. The 2-1 victory evened the Owls overall record at 3-3-2 and provided a good start for the team’s goal of winning Conference USA.
“UTEP is a talented team with a lot of wins already under its belt, so we knew we had our work cut-out for us,” said Rice coach Nicky Adams in a news release. “They’re already tough-enough to play in any circumstance, but to have them on the road in the conference-opener makes it that much tougher.”
The Miners got on the scoreboard first. Tayler O’Hayre’s free-kick from more than 45 yards out accounted for the goal in the 72nd minute.
Less than four minutes later, midfielder Gabriela Iribarne tied it up after reason a cross pass from freshman Bella Hernandez. It was Iribarne’s first goal of the season, since her score against Oklahoma State last week was wiped out when the game was canceled due to bad weather.
“I am also really proud of Gabi,” Adams said. “She has been working so hard, and she was another player who had a goal for us against OSU that ended up getting erased. Tonight it was her turn.”
Still reeling from Iribarne’s goal, UTEP (7-3-1) gave up another one 80 seconds later. Rice freshman Jenny Fichera made a cross to the far post to find Holly Hargeaves in the box. Hargeaves headed the ball in for the score.
“She’s so dangerous with the ball and can be a threat to score at any time,” Adams said of Hargeaves.
Both goals were set up by freshmen.
“It can get lost sometimes that this is their first season of Division I soccer,” Adams said of Hernandez, a California native and the Fichera, who is from Michigan. “They’ve been getting better and better and they have really helped us.”
Rick goalkeeper Amy Czyz recorded six saves, including five in the first half. UTEP outshot the Owls 12-5. Oddly, all 7 of the matches corner kicks were taken by the Miners.
Rice travels back east but will stop for a match at UTSA before returning to Houston. The match against the Roadrunners (2-7-1) is at 1 p.m. Sunday.