Decked out in pink uniforms in honor of breast cancer awareness, the Cougars took to the field to face Rice and fell 1-0 on a penalty kick.
“It was my senior night and last home game, I played my hardest,” said senior defender Ciara Slayton. “That penalty was really stupid. We should have taken care of the game anyway but the ref cost us the game.”
The Owls retained ball possession for the majority of the first half. Senior forward Katelyn Rhodes managed to get possession during the 17th minute, passing two defenders and taking the ball to the 10-yard line before attempting a shot that was blocked by the Rice keeper.
With two more goal attempts, the Cougars held off the co-Conference USA champion team for the first half with zero scores. An attempt at a UH goal during the 62nd minute transformed into a Rice run on the other side, where a Cougar penalty was committed. The awarded penalty shot, delivered by Rice senior defender Lauren LaGro, resulted in the sole goal of the night.
UH continued to try for a goal, and came close with a shot by sophomore forward Kelsey Zamora. The final goal attempt of the night came with 2:17 remaining.
“One little error made the difference because we had them,” said senior midfielder Morgan Vela. “I was disappointed with the score but we’re going to hopefully see them again in the tournament and it’s a whole different story there.”
Even with a loss to the Owls, the Cougars are moving on to the C-USA tournament in El Paso hosted by No. 3 in standings, UTEP.
“I’m very excited for the team on this great accomplishment,” said head coach Chris Pfau in a press release. “They have worked so hard on going 3-2-1 over the last five matches.”
The top eight on the standings table advance to the tournament. The Cougars, who have not made the tournament since 2010, will play their first match against co-conference champions Colorado College at noon on Wednesday.
As a single elimination tournament, four teams will move on to the semifinal on Friday and two will fight for the championship on Sunday.
“I’m excited for us to go to the tournament and see how we do,” Slayton said. “We’ve had our ups and downs but overall we’ve played hard, well and we’ve gotten far.”