HOUSTON, Texas - An early connection goal by McNeese’s Magalie Depot off a pass from Brianna Mascia in the first minute of the match was not enough to hold off the Rice on Sunday as the Owls scored the tying and game-winning goals withing four minutes of each other early in the second half to defeat McNeese 2-1 in the Cowgirls’ season opener.
The game, which originally kicked-off in Lake Charles on Thursday but was postponed due to field conditions at Cowgirl Field, was rescheduled for Sunday at Rice. McNeese falls to 1-0-0 in season opener and Rice advances to 1-1-0.
The Cowgirls came out strong and looking to attack when just 36 seconds into the match, Mascia sent a through ball to Depot who finished the ball off the left post to take an early 1-0 lead. After the goal, Rice settled in and applied pressure both ways which kept the Cowgirls off-balance.
“The first goal was us being ready to attack and them not being quite into the match yet. Magalie, Madysin (Girouard), and Bee (Brianna) all had important touches on the play and made it look easy,” said head coach Drew Fitzgerald.
In the second half, Rice’s Haley Kostyshyn scored the equalizer 10 minutes into the half off a header inside the box. Senior goalkeeper Emma Roccaforte went down with an injury on the goal and was replaced by sophomore Kelly Hines who faced nine shots in the final 35 minutes. The lady Owls took the lead just four minutes later when Mikala Furuto found the back of the net from outside the box.
“They really upped the pressure in the second half,” said Fitzgerald. “We struggled with how direct they played. It wasn’t really our defending that broke us down so much as our inability to break their pressure for any sustained amount of time.”
Despite the loss McNeese, looked promising in its first match back in over a year. New additions to the team fit in well and team veterans set the tone.
“I was really impressed with Karissa Illingworth’s defense on the back line and Anna Watson’s energy that kept us in the game when things were difficult,” said Fitzgerald.
Rice outshot the Cowgirls 17-6 and a 4-3 on-goal advantage. The Owls attempted and three more corner kicks than the Pokes.
The Cowgirls will return to action on Friday when they host Nicholls to open up Southland Conference play.