BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With no shortage of drama in a 1-0 overtime road victory, the Rice Soccer team moved into sole possession of first place in the Conference USA West Division Standings and into the driver's seat to clinch the division crown with a win in its final home game of the regular season next week at Holloway Field.
C-USA West Division foes Rice and UAB were deadlocked 0-0 in a league match Friday night on the road in Birmingham, Ala. The Blazers, who were unbeaten and untied in five home matches this season, were turning up the offensive pressure with a 7-4 shots advantage in the second half, but Owl goalkeeper Bella Killgore was sound and solid with four saves in the period (as well as an additional save she recorded in the first half).
The teams remained scoreless at 90 minutes and headed into overtime. A little more than two weeks ago Rice came up big in overtime with a win over No. 12 ranked Texas A&M. Even when Killgore registered her sixth save of the night on a UAB corner in the 92nd minute, the outcome was far from certain. The Owls were empty on a corner kick in the 95th and UAB was off frame on a shot in the 96th.
Finally in the 97th, Caleigh Boeckx played wide to Haley Kostyshyn on the right flank, who immediately drew the full attention of the UAB defenders. Kostyshyn dribbled to draw the Blazers a bit closer, then crossed it back to the far post. True freshman Mikala Furuto quickly smashed it to the back of the UAB net from close range. Her fifth team-leading fifth goal of the season secured the 1-0 overtime victory.
The Big Picture
Rice is now 4-1-0 in league play and in sole possession of first place in the C-USA West Division standings with 12 points. The C-USA standings are based on earning three points for every league win and one point for finishing with a C-USA tie. After Friday's games, the Owls hold a two point lead over North Texas (3-1-1 in conference for 10 points) heading into the end of the regular season next week. Both teams have just one remaining game. Rice hosts UTEP while North Texas hosts UTSA.
Coach Lee Said
"It is very difficult to win on the road," Rice head coach Brian Lee explained, "but the road is where great seasons come to fruition. We are gelling at just the right time."
For The Record
Rice improved to 9-2-0 on the year with its fifth-straight win. UAB is now 7-5-1 overall and 2-3-0 in conference (six points).