Rice fries Houston in Conference USA opener

Set pieces were the Cougars’ downfall in Friday’s 2-0 match against crosstown rivals Rice.

The match at Rice Soccer Stadium marked both teams’ Conference USA opener. Since 2003, Houston is 0-4-1 in games against Rice.

Houston junior goalkeeper Shelby Scott recorded four saves and had a busy night as Rice (8-3-1, 1-0-0 C-USA) out-shot Houston 24-4, with six shots on goal to Houston’s 2.

Rice freshman midfielder Kate Edwards proved unstoppable for the Houston defense as she led the Owls with two goals in their fourth shutout of the season.

Edwards had Rice on the board in the 21st minute after a free kick from sophomore defender Kellen Schugart belted into play from the right wing, deflected off the crossbar and landed to the left of the goal at Edwards’ feet.

Edwards shot to the right and the ball made its way past a diving Scott and into the net.

A corner kick in the 64th minute by Rice senior forward Clory Martin came into play around the keeper’s box where Edwards scored on a header for Rice’s second and final goal of the night.

The Cougars (4-5-1, 0-1-1 C-USA) saw the return of three injured forwards in sophomore forward Nikki Echeverria and juniors Christine Nieva and Brittney Pfeiffer.

Echeverria and Nieva missed two and five matches, respectively, while Pfeiffer had been out the entire nine games of the season.

Nieva showed no signs of difficulty getting back in the groove as she recorded one of Houston’s two shots on goal in the 50th minute.

Freshman forward Lauri Byrne recorded Houston’s first shot on goal in the 32nd minute, but Rice freshman goalkeeper Meghan Erkel made short work of both of them.

Up next for the Cougars will be to prepare to put an end to their three-game losing streak as they take on C-USA opponent Memphis on Friday at Robertson Stadium.

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