UH Notebook: Soccer team advances in C-USA tournament

The UH women’s soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament after defeating Marshall 3-0 on Wednesday on the strength of its speed and aggressiveness.

UH was held scoreless in the first half, despite outshooting the Thundering Herd 12 to one. However, the Cougars’ offense exploded for three consecutive second-half goals in a span of 24 minutes.

Freshman Sami Sackos opened things up with her fifth goal of the season by putting back a rebound from a shot by senior Lauri Byrne. Byrne would net a goal of her own later — her eighth of the season. Junior Jessica Zavalza would get into the action by putting one past Thundering Herd goalkeeper Lexa Hughes for her second score of the year. Senior Kaitlin Thulin picked up two assists in the match, helping on both Byrne’s and Zavalza’s goals.

The Cougars were so anxious to push the pace on offense that they picked up 10 offsides penalties.

The victory gives this Cougar squad the most victories in the program’s history and also gave freshman goalkeeper Cami Koski her conference-leading ninth shutout of the season.

The Cougars will take on conference powerhouse Memphis at 4 p.m. Friday.

The Tigers have won the last three C-USA championships and are led by the last two C-USA offensive MVPs, seniors Ashley Berra and Vendula Strnadova. Berra and Strnadova led the Tigers’ attack with 17 and 14 points respectively.

With one win separating them in the regular season standings, the Cougars and Tigers are two evenly matched teams who tied in their last meeting, a 1-1 double-overtime match in Memphis.

The two squads finished the season in the top four in goals scored in C-USA and took the top two spots in goals allowed in conference with the Cougars allowing the least.

More conference realignment chatter

The topic of conference expansion has risen again, and UH is being mentioned.

The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that the Big East is considering adding schools, and UH is one of the potential candidates. Other universities receiving consideration include ECU, Memphis, Texas Christian University and UCF.

No deal is imminent, however. The UH Athletics Department said in a statement that their loyalty remains with Conference USA and they have not made contact with the Big East.

“The University of Houston is a proud member of Conference USA and enjoys its affiliation with the other 11 member institutions,” the statement said. “We have not been contacted by the Big East Conference and are currently focused on winning championships in the 2010-11 season.”

Hoops squad anticipates preseason matchup

The men’s basketball season will come to an unofficial start Saturday when the Cougars play Abilene Christian in an exhibition game at Hofheinz Pavillion at 4 p.m.

The official start is Nov. 12 when Nicholls State comes to Hofheinz for a 7 p.m. matchup.

Swimming and diving team to host Miami

The Cougars are set to compete with the Miami Hurricanes in their first home meet of the season Saturday at the Natatorium in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

Swimming head coach Mark Taylor said Miami has a team that is rich in talent.

“They are loaded this year and are stronger than they’ve been in probably the last 10 years,” Taylor said in a release. “They have several fantastic international swimmers who are fast.”

Taylor said the Hurricanes will be difficult to beat in the relay events and that the team will have to earn points elsewhere.

“They are stronger than us in the relays,” Taylor said. “So the individual events are where we’re going to have to make our mark this time.”

The Cougars’ next meet is the Phil Hansel Cougar Classic Invitational from Nov. 18-20, also at the CRWC Natatorium.

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