Soccer Drops Rice, 1-0
Sept. 25, 2009
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Freshman Hali Oughton scored the game's only goal at the 80:39 mark to lift the East Carolina soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Rice Friday afternoon at Bunting Field in the Conference USA opener for both teams. For the second consecutive contest, sophomore Amanda Malkiewicz tallied the assist on the game-winning goal off a pass from a corner kick.
The victory moves ECU to 6-1-2 overall and 1-0-0 in C-USA while the Owls fall to 2-5-2 and 0-1-0 in the league. The victory marks the Pirates' fourth straight season beginning conference action without a loss. East Carolina's last league-opening defeat occurred at Rice in 2005.
The East Carolina defensive effort was led by junior goalkeeper Jen Kurowicki, who played the entire contest and earned her first ever shutout while making a career-best six saves. Kurowicki had not played in the Pirates' past three matches.
"Rice is a very good team," head coach Rob Donnenwirth said. "They have a strong midfield that caused us a lot of problems early in the game. It wasn't until we put some pressure on them and started winning more balls that we were able to turn things around."
A scoreless first half ended with the Pirates outshooting Rice 9-5, but the Owls took six corner kicks compared with just two for ECU.
Rice had the first scoring chances of the opening frame, firing two shots and taking three corner kicks within the initial 9:30. Hope Ward and Shelley Wong recorded the two shots. Following the strong start, Rice managed only three more shots during the half.
Malkiewicz had the first good scoring opportunity for ECU at 14:23 after slipping past the Owl defense, but goalie Meghan Erkel made the save.
The Owls' best scoring chance of the period came at 34:11 when Korey Taylor broke past the Pirate defense and took a shot. Kurowicki dove and made the save.
East Carolina's final scoring chance of the half came at the 41:00 mark after a corner kick. Senior Alexis Foltz took a shot from in close that was blocked by a Rice defender. Junior Amanda Broz collected the rebound and took another shot, this one rolling just to the left of the goalpost and wide.
In the second half, Rice again had the first good scoring chance, at 47:48, when Wong took a shot from 15 yards out and Kurowicki jumped up to make the save, knocking the ball over the net.
East Carolina received a throw-in deep in Rice territory at 50:46 and nearly converted when freshman Chrissy Gratz' toss found Oughton near the back post. Oughton headed the ball toward the goal but Erkel made the save.
"We were never able to get into a rhythm tonight, but we came away with three points, which was very important," Donnenwirth said.
East Carolina recorded two more shots on goal before Oughton tallied the game-winner. Freshman Caty Butler had a clean look at the net at 62:58 and sophomore Leah Bagonis took a shot at 74:20 but both were turned aside by Erkel.
To set up the winner, Malkiewicz took a corner kick for the Pirates and sent the ball into the box, where Oughton headed it home. It was the first goal of Oughton's career.
Rice had one last scoring chance with less than three minutes remaining when Kate Edwards took a shot from 25 yards away and hit the upper right corner of the crossbar.
The contest also proved to be a success off the field for ECU as the team raised more than $4,000 for the Riley's Army charity. The Pirate players, coaches and team trainer wore pink jerseys during the contest that were auctioned off to raise the money. Riley's Army, founded in April of 2007, supports nine-year-old Greenville resident Riley Philpot, her family and others in the area with children battling cancer.
East Carolina finishes the weekend Sunday hosting C-USA foe Houston for an 11:30 a.m. contest. ECU has won the six meetings in the all-time series, outscoring the Cougars 11-2.