Houston stumbles through weekend games

The frustrations continue to mount as that elusive first Conference USA win keeps eluding the grasp of the Cougar soccer team (4-8-1, 0-5-1 C-USA).

Houston dropped two matches over the weekend, losing 1-0 to Memphis on Friday before bowing to Alabama-Birmingham 4-1 on Sunday. The Cougars have been winless in conference play since the 2006 season when they defeated UAB 1-0 in Birmingham, Ala.

After the disappointing result in Memphis, Tenn. the Cougars looked to rebound against a UAB team fresh off a 5-2 victory over conference foe Rice.

The Blazers weren’t a very welcome presence for the Cougars as they went right to work prying through the Cougar’ defense on Sunday for a 4-1 victory. The game unraveled quickly for Houston when a pair of UAB freshmen struck early scores.

Freshman UAB forward Laura McCalla punched her fifth goal of the season off an assist from sophomore defender Marie Yempuku in the eighth minute. The Blazers extended their lead when freshman midfielder Carolyn Polcari converted on a corner kick in the 35th minute for her third goal of the season.

UH senior forward Maegan Kiphart cut the lead in half in the 43rd minute by heading in a goal off a corner kick from UH sophomore midfielder Jessica Rathweg to keep the game close heading into halftime, but things didn’t get any better. Blazer freshman forward Tiffani Turpin scored back-to-back goals to erase any Cougar hopes for a conference win.

In the 61st minute, Turpin marked her fifth goal of the season to give the Blazers a 3-1 lead. She extended the lead by scoring on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute to seal the Blazers’ 4-1 victory over the Cougars, who had not lost by more than 1 point and had not allowed more than two goals to any opponent all season.

The Cougars posted another season low, taking only three shots in the game compared to the Blazers’ 26. Senior goalkeeper Shelby Scott recorded a season-high 11 saves against UAB.

Houston lost its seventh contest by 1 point this season against defending C-USA champion Memphis Tigers on Friday. Houston battled the Tigers through a scoreless first half as Scott kept the Cougars afloat by tallying four of her six saves in the first half.

Junior midfielder Kaitlin Thulin, freshmen forwards Jessica Zavalza and Riley Canfield and freshman midfielder Ryan Bruz contributed two shots each in the contest, but it was Tiger sophomore midfielder Vendula Strnadova who stole the show with her three shots of the day, including the eventual game winner in the 72nd minute.

With an assist from Tiger junior midfielder Laura Laufenberg, Strnadova sent the ball over the middle and into the net to tally her third goal of the season.

Freshman goalkeeper Nikki Unland made her first career start for the Tigers and didn’t disappoint. She posted a shutout behind a stout Memphis defense that only allowed 10 shots from the Cougars.

The Cougars head back on the road on Friday in their pursuit of their first win since Sept. 19th and their first conference win of the season.

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