CARY, N.C. — The Rice Soccer program added to its already historic season with a 1-0 victory over No. 5 seed West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday afternoon in Cary, N.C., sending the Owls to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
Advancing In 'The Dance'
The Owls are next scheduled to play red-hot Virginia (12-4-2) on May 5 (Wed.) at 8 pm Central Time.
Rice was credited with taking just one shot in the 90-minute match. In the game's 74th minute Owl junior goalkeeper Bella Killgore sent a long ball to just outside the top of the box that was headed away by a WVU defender, but the carom was eventually controlled by the Owls. Senior Callie Ericksen crossed the ball from 35 yards out into the 18-yard box, where Izzy McBride collided with the WVU goalkeeper as McBride was trying to play the ball. West Virginia was called for a foul inside their own 18, setting up a penalty kick. Owl junior Delaney Schultz, stepped up and launched a rocket shot that found the back of the Mountaineer netting on the left side. The goal was Schultz' fourth of the year and her second game-winning goal this season.
First PK This Season
The penalty kick was the team's first 'in-game' PK of the season, either for or against the Owls. In the semifinal round in the Conference USA Championship (April 15), Rice and Southern Miss went to a PK shootout after double-overtime to determine which team would advance to the Event Final. Rice won the shootout over USM 5-3, and Schultz converted on her PK attempt as the second Owl shooter in that tiebreaker format.
Rice took the lead in the second half, but there was still quite a bit of soccer left to play. The strong West Virginia side, seeded No. 5 overall for the NCAA Tournament but also ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation by one publication, continued to apply offensive pressure as the team had done all game. The Mountaineers finished the contest with a 20-1 advantage in shots with a 7-3 margin in corner kicks.
The Owl defense and keeper Bella Killgore were definitely tested for 90 minutes, but squad aced this particular soccer exam on the eve of the semester finals. The clean sheet was the team/Killgore's 11th of the season, tied for the second-most in a single season in program history and the most since 2014.
More News & Notes
* Rice improved to 14-2-1 overall, tying the school record for wins in a single season set in 2004 and equaled in 2014.
* The Owls are unbeaten in their last eleven matches (10-0-1).
* The Blue & Gray played the match without three regular starters who are sidelined due injuries. Sophomore Jaden Roberts ended up making her first career start.
* West Virginia was the highest-ranked opponent (No. 4 by TopDrawerSoccer.com/No. 5 National Seed) the Owls have defeated. In 2006 Rice beat a Texas Longhorn team 1-0 at Holloway Field that was ranked No. 8 in the nation at the time.
* Rice is the third C-USA program to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, and the first for the league since 2011.