Oct. 29, 2013
RUSTON, La. - Win and you are in.
That is the mantra the Louisiana Tech soccer team will have on their minds as they host Rice at 7 p.m. Wednesday night in the Lady Techsters' regular season finale.
Despite the most grueling road swing of the season ending in two shutout losses last weekend to Colorado College and UTSA, LA Tech (9-9-1, 4-5 C-USA) still controls its own destiny in qualifying for the Conference USA tournament with its 20th and final match to come.
"The team is tired," head coach Kevin Sherry said. "It has been a tough season with a steep learning curve for our young team. I hope we can put all of that learning into our last game. It is a big task, but I am confident these ladies have it in them for one last push."
A team loaded with 18 freshmen and sevens sophomores, it has been the leadership and play of the lone senior on the squad, goalkeeper Caitlin Updyke, that has been a big role in this year's success.
Updyke will be recognized in what will be Senior Night, but she has also been very recognizable in net in C-USA play, registering four shutouts in all four league wins and recently holding West Division leader Colorado College scoreless for 101 minutes with a career-high 12 saves before the Tigers pulled out a late victory.
The opponent, Rice (6-7-3, 4-4-1 C-USA), has a spot in the tournament riding on the line as well.
The Owls have had a mediocre season by their standards. They shared the 2012 C-USA regular season title with CC, posting an 8-2-1 mark in league play, and were picked second in the preseason coaches' poll.
Forward Lauren Hughes has been nothing short of outstanding though for the Owls, leading the team in goals (8), assists (8), shots (54) and shots on goal (28).
She will indeed be the focus of the LA Tech backline who has the luxury of playing this critical match on its home field where they have only allowed three goals in their last five matches at the Lady Techster Soccer Complex.
"I am glad we are at home," Sherry said. "We feel happiest playing in front of our great fans. It will be exciting and it is a great achievement to still have a shot at the tournament going into the last game. I am very proud of this team."
Admission is free and LA Tech All-Access subscribers can listen to and watch a live video stream of the game by logging on through LATechSports.com, the official website of Louisiana Tech Athletics. Live stats will be available through the link provided on the schedule page.
Twitter users can get updates of the game as well by following @LATechSOC.
For complete coverage of LA Tech Soccer, please follow @LATechSOC on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.