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RiceOwls Advance To C-USA Championship Final

Published: April 15, 2021

HOUSTON — After 90 scoreless minutes of regulation and two more 10-minute overtime periods, the No. 25 ranked Rice soccer team advanced to the Conference USA Women's Soccer Championship Final by winning a penalty kick shootout over Southern Miss Thursday night at the Owls' Holloway Field.
 
Owls Take 'Shoot In'
Both teams had some scoring chances throughout the match but remained in a 0-0 deadlock after 110 total minutes of playing time. The Owls advance to the event's Championship Final by winning the PK shootout 5-3. Rice next meets East No. 3 seed Charlotte on Saturday at 12 noon. The 49ers defeated WKU 2-0 in the bracket's other semifinal. Saturday's tournament winner earns C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The match is scheduled for a live broadcast on ESPN+.
 
For The Record: The Semifinal Match Is A Tie
By league rule the PK shootout is only used to determine the advancing team. The official result of the Rice-USM semifinal is a 0-0 tie. Rice moved to 11-2-1 overall. Southern Miss concluded its season at 7-3-1.
 
The Story
Thursday's match had almost no resemblance to when the same two teams met at Holloway Field just a little more than two weeks ago. The Owls coasted to a 4-0 win that afternoon (March 28). The rematch saw Southern Miss saving and blocking shots, and pressuring the Owls with 16 shot attempts of their own.
 
Perhaps the two closest calls were Rice goalkeeper Bella Killgore hitting the USM crossbar on free kick attempt in the 76th minute. In the second overtime Southern Miss thwarted a Rice corner kick and suddenly had a breakaway sprint to the Owl goal. The Golden Eagles had the ball on the run but the USM player wasn't alone. Owl junior defender Caleigh Boeckx was in hot pursuit, and in the game's exhausting 104th minute stayed with the USM attacker just long enough to alter what otherwise could have been a season-ending shot.
 
The teams headed to the first shootout of the week-long event. The Owls went first and Haley Kostyshyn and Delaney Schultz both made their attempts. Killgore made a diving save on the second USM attempt for an advantage. The next three Rice shooters, Mijke Roelfsema, Killgore and Catarina Albuquerque all made their attempts to clinch a 5-3 finish to the shootout.
 
Notes & Stats
• Rice has advanced to the Championship Final of its conference tournament three other times (2004, 2005 and 2014), winning the event twice (2005 and 2014).
• The Owls won a PK shootout for the first time in program history. In the 20 years since starting a scholarship soccer program, Rice had been in a shootout only two other times (2010 and 2011) where the team was eliminated on both occasions.
• The Owls' eight match unbeaten streak is the program's longest since 2017.
• C-USA tournament games are officially counted as neutral events, but Rice is now 8-1-1 at Holloway Field this spring.
• The Blue & Gray recorded its ninth shutout of the season and have tallied seven shutouts in a row dating back over the last month.
• The nine shutouts are tied for the fourth-most in a Rice single season and the most since 2014.
• Owl goalkeeper Bella Killgore stretched her consecutive scoreless minutes streak to 621:38. The junior from Houston finished with four saves in the 110 minutes of playing time.
• Rice had a 24-16 advantage in shots and an 8-3 margin in corner kicks.

 
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