Alive and kicking
Not just a baseball school: Rice University puts another sports team on thenational radar
We're months from baseball season, but Rice University has another team that's made the national radar.
Halfway through the season, the Rice women's soccer team has risen to No. 24 in the national RPI rankings. After Rice shutout SMU and Tulsa last weekend, the team is 8-3-1 and 3-1-0 in Conference USA play. The Owls' road performance also earned freshman goalkeeper Amy Czyz Conference USA Defender of the Week honors. Czyz ranks in the Top 25 in the country in goals against average (letting up a paltry 0.49 per game) — one of only two freshmen keepers who are on the list.
The Rice women's soccer program was founded in 2001 and earned berths in the NCAA tournament in 2004 and 2005. This is the best start for Rice soccer since 2007.
Rice is currently tied for third place in Conference USA, but the RPI ranking (which factors in wins, strength of schedule and opponents' strength of schedule) is the main criteria used to select at-large bids to the NCAA tournament. The final home games for the season are Oct. 14 and 16 against conference rivals UCF and Southern Miss, and the Owls play at the University of Houston on Oct. 28.
After that, it will be on to the conference tournament.
The team hopes to make the 64-team field for the NCAA Women's College Cup, which starts in November. Only one Conference USA team made the field last season, but Top Drawer Soccer is predicting that both UCF and Rice will make the cut for soccer's version of the Big Dance this season.