HOUSTON, Texas — The No. 25 ranked Rice Soccer team scored a pair of goals and junior goalkeeper Bella Killgore notched her eighth-consecutive complete game shutout to pace the Owls to a convincing 2-0 victory over Charlotte and claim the Conference USA Championship Saturday afternoon at the Holloway Field.
In With The Win
The Owls have clinched C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament starting April 27/28 at various university sites in North Carolina.
Rice will be making the program's fifth trip to the NCAA's 'Big Dance' after claiming the school's third C-USA tournament crown. The Owls enter national postseason play with a 12-2-1 record and unbeaten in nine-straight, eight by shutout including the three games in the week-long conference tournament.
Junior midfielder Delaney Schultz, who had a pair of assists in the Owls' three victories, was selected as the tournament's Offensive MVP, while Mijke Roelfsema, who anchored the Owls' backline that authored three shutouts over 290 minutes in the tournament, was selected as the Defensive MVP. The Rice duo were joined on the C-USA All-Tournament Team by teammates Caleigh Boeckx, and Rebecca Keane.
In the first half, Keane scored her first goal of the season on a close range shot after a short corner kick off assists by Madison Kent and Schultz in the 31st minute. Rice was up 1-0, but the team wasn't quite finished. In the 33rd minute senior Callie Ericksen scored with a leaping jab after a centering pass from Kent. A defender by trade the last four years, the goal was the first of Ericksen's collegiate career.
Charlotte continued to battle and out-shot Rice 6-4 in the second half, but Owl Killgore made the margin stand with her tenth complete game shutout of the season with a streak of eight-straight dating back over the last month. Killgore extended her streak of consecutive scoreless minutes to 815:59 dating back to March 15.
The Long Work Week
Playing as the tournament's co-number one seed, the Owls opened with a 3-0 win over Old Dominion on Tuesday (April 13). In the semifinals on Friday the Blue & Gray and Southern Miss were deadlocked 0-0 after two overtime periods. Rice won a penalty kick shootout (for the first time in program history) to advance to Saturday's Championship Final. The match was broadcast live by ESPN+.
NCAA Selections On Monday
The official NCAA soccer selection announcement is slated for April 19 (Monday) 12 noon central time on NCAA.com. The opening round games of the tournament's consolidated 48-team field would be (either) April 27/28.