Coming off a double-overtime tie against Marshall Sunday, the Southern Miss soccer team will face Rice Saturday, Oct. 12 at 12 p.m.
The Golden Eagles (6-4-4, 0-2-2) lost 1-0 to Tulsa on Oct. 4 and tied with Marshall 0-0 in the Eagles’ seventh overtime game of the season. Their upcoming home game against the Owls will be the only game of the weekend, giving them ample opportunity to not only prepare for the game but focus on one opponent.
“We took the past couple of days off,” said first-year head coach Mohammed El-Zare. “Since we’re playing on a Saturday, we figured we would give the girls a couple of days to rest and recuperate.”
Wednesday would be devoted to developing a game plan for Saturday, El-Zare said, while Thursday and Friday will be used for practicing that game plan.
Rice (4-5-2, 2-2-0) had a weekend similar to that of the Eagles. The Owls are also coming off a 1-0 loss to Tulsa at home. However, the Owls have recorded two conference wins against UTEP and North Texas – teams the Eagles struggled against. Southern Miss played the Mean Green of North Texas to a 1-1 double-overtime tie, but Rice had a commanding 4-0 victory against that same team.
All four goals were scored by three dangerous midfielders. Gabriela Iribarne scored two of those goals, and Jasmine Isokpunwu and Quinny Truong each had a goal. Although they have been strong offensively, each goal was scored within close range, and both of Iribarne’s were from inside the box.
According to El-Zare, the Owls’ midfielders are tricky, and their threat needs to be addressed.
“Rice is a very hard-nosed kind of team,” El-Zare said. “They have a couple of players in the midfield that are creative and tough, and we’re working on limiting their chances in the midfield.”
The Southern Miss players feel confident about stifling the Owls’ offense after an impressive defensive performance against the Herd on Oct. 6. Though Marshall got off 26 shots, only six of them were on goal. The back line of Danielle Beatty, Adriana Garcia, Kay Kay Hypolite and Casey Adkins was able to turn Marshall away empty-handed.
“Our defense actually did really good on Sunday,” said freshman keeper Brittany Taylor. “We did have 26 shots against us but it tells us a lot about our defense that only six of them were on frame, and we wanted them to shoot from far out, which is what happened.”
Taylor (3-3-4) recorded six saves and no goals-against in the game against Marshall.
“On paper, they took more shots than us,” El-Zare added, “but if you look at the types of shots our defense allowed, they were 30- and 40-yard attempts or shots with defenders nearby forcing the player to take a shot she was less comfortable with, which was exactly what we wanted.”
Offensively, the Golden Eagles struggled by recording only 14 shots, but senior forward Danica Roberts came close with her two shots on goal.
Both Taylor and Roberts know their team can come together and win at home Saturday.
“It’s always important to get a win,” Taylor said. “I know that we can do it if we do it together as a team… We definitely need it, for the conference and to boost our confidence.”
“You got to think of every game as a challenge,” Roberts said. “We all know they (Rice) are a decent team but when we play our best football we can contend with the best of them.”