Oct. 30, 2013
RUSTON, La. - With a berth in the Conference USA Tournament on the line, Louisiana Tech fell short of a postseason bid as the Lady Techsters dropped a 3-0 decision to Rice on a rainy Wednesday evening at the Lady Techster Soccer Complex in Ruston.
The disappointing end dropped LA Tech to 9-10-1 overall with a 4-6-0 mark in the program's first year in Conference USA. Rice (7-7-3, 5-4-1 C-USA) clinches a spot in the league tournament that the Owls will host beginning next week.
"Rice was last year's conference (C-USA) champions," Louisiana Tech head coach Kevin Sherry said. "We knew it would be tough and they proved to be tough. They were just too physical, too technical and too good. Our girls have it everything. The couple of shots they had, if they had found the corner instead of the goalkeeper it could have been a different game. You need a bit of luck if you are going to win and we just didn't have it today."
Goalkeeper Caitlin Updyke (8-9-0) is the lone senior on the 2013 Lady Techster squad and made three saves on the night after facing six shots on goal and 16 shots overall.
"Caitlin has been the starting goalkeeper since she arrived on campus," Sherry said about Updyke. "To have that four-year influence has been huge. She came up with some great saves and she has held us in a lot of games. She has been the core of our team so it will be sad to see her go."
Amy Czyz (7-6-3) played all 90 minutes in net for Rice, making two saves on LA Tech's two shots on goal and 11 shots overall.
Rice outshot Louisiana Tech, 16-11, and controlled much of the game with efficient passing. The Owls also had a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks but were tagged with seven fouls compared to Tech's four.
The Owls got on board in the 29th minute as Lauren Hughes sent a header that ricocheted off the goal post and into the goal past Updyke after Jessica Howard sent a long cross from near the corner of the field.
With just a 1-0 deficit entering the second half, the Lady Techsters had a chance to even it up very early on but Annabel Prior's shot in the 50th minute went six inches above the crossbar. Only four minutes later, Tech had another chance but Madison Doll would send a shot wide left of the goal.
Rice would reorganize after Doll's miss and four minutes later Holly Hargreaves would send a shot into the bottom left corner past a diving Updyke for her eighth goal of the season with Howard notching her second assist of the night.
Down 2-0, Tech would be challenged by Rice's physical play and control of the ball. Doll would get another chance but would send a header shot wide left of the goal again.
On the ensuing goal kick, Czyz sent the ball midway up the field on the left side in front of the team benches to Danielle Spriggs, who would take it in and rip a shot that would go off the crossbar. Bella Hernandez took the rebound and pushed it in for the 3-0 lead and final score in the game.
The coaching staff now turns towards recruiting and a 2014 spring practice season with a returning group of everyone but Updyke.
"We have learned a lot of what we need," Sherry said of continuing to build the program for the future. "This [Conference USA] is a step up from the WAC and we have learned a lot about what is needed to play and to compete at this level. Some of that we can do here with the team - we are going to work in the spring on those things - but other things needs to be recruiting. We need to fill a couple of holes recruiting."
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