UTSA blanks Rice, 2-0, for first-ever Conference USA victory
SAN ANTONIO — Kauwela Neal and Laylla da Cruz both scored goals, Brianna Livecchi picked up a pair of assists and goalie Bubba Makela earned her third shutout of the season to lead UTSA to a 2-0 victory against Rice, its first-ever in Conference USA play, on Sunday at Park West Athletics Complex.
Makela made five saves to add to her league-leading total for the Roadrunners (2-8-1, 1-0-1 C-USA), who snapped a seven-match winless streak and recorded the program’s first triumph against the Owls in four all-time matchs. UTSA's defense tallied its second shutout in as many league matches and the Roadrunners have not allowed a goal in their last 230 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Iribarne led Rice (3-4-2, 1-1 C-USA) with seven shots, including three on goal.
The Owls kept the UTSA offense at bay in the early stages of the contest, but the home squad was able to break through in the 22nd minute on its first shot of the afternoon.
Taylor Wingerden sent a pass into the penalty box that Livecchi directed to Neal, who beat Amy Czyz for a 1-0 lead. The winner was the third of the sophomore’s career and first of the fall.
The Roadrunners defense made that goal hold up by surviving a flurry from Rice in the waning minutes.
With just four minutes to go, Iribarne got the ball inside the penalty box and sent a shot toward the goal that was blocked by a UTSA defender. Iribarne collected the rebound and sent another shot above Makela’s head, but she jumped up and swatted the attempt over the net.
The Roadrunners quickly responded and da Cruz put the match away in the 88th minute with her first goal of the season. The Ouro Branco, Brazil, native took a cross from Livecchi just outside the six-yard box and found the back of the net for the eighth goal of her career and first since a 3-0 victory at Northwestern State on Oct. 16, 2011.
UTSA ran out the clock from there for its first triumph in nearly a month.
The Roadrunners will return to the pitch on Friday, Oct. 4, when they play a 6 p.m. (CT) contest at Charlotte (6-4, 1-1 C-USA).