LUBBOCK, Texas – History was made Sunday night as the Texas Tech soccer team got off to its best start in school history as it defeated Rice, 2-0, in Houston at the Rice Track/Soccer Stadium.
It is the first time in the program's history that it has started the season with four-consecutive shutouts. The four shutouts surpass the total number of shutouts (three) from 2009, which was the most successful season in the previous 10 years.
"We knew coming in that this would be a big challenge for us," said head coach Tom Stone. "Rice was rested, not having played Friday, and we knew they would be a tough outing for us on the road. Rice really came after us early and we had to weather the storm before we settled in and really played well after about 10 minutes."
The Red Raiders scored both of their goals in the first half with the first one coming in the 16th minute as junior Maggie Fete played a ball into junior Taylor Lytle who turned her player and ran towards the goal. At 22 yards out, Lytle hit a left-footed ball across the far of the goal which freshman Jessica Fuston flicked in with her head for the 1-0 lead. That goal marked the second game-winning goal of the season for Fuston.
"The first goal was a great build up with a class finish from Jessica off of Taylor's service and that really settled down our young team," Stone said. "Taylor gave a special performance tonight. Her effort and defense were fantastic and she was an offensive threat for a full 90 minutes."
In the 38th minute with Tech possessing the ball through midfield, all four midfielders touched the ball before getting the ball wide to junior defender Whitney Sharpe on the flank. Sharpe drew her defender and slipped a perfectly weighted ball to freshman Mallory Yacullo, who bent her run down the wing and behind the Rice (1-2) backline. On stride, Yacullo whipped a hard cross to the back post and found Fuston running on to hammer it home for her second header goal of the game and give Tech the 2-0 lead.
"The play of Hayley (Haagsma), Maggie and Tiffini (Smith) at holding mid was excellent and once again Mallory gave us a great lift when she entered the game," Stone said.
The two goals for Fuston marked her second multi-goal game of the year as she also scored twice against TCU in the season opener.
Senior Colleen Pitts recorded her fourth shutout of the season and the seventh of her career as she tallied four saves. She now stands alone in fourth place on Tech's career shutout list and the four this season rank tied for sixth on the single-season shutout list.
The Owls outshot the Red Raiders 17-13.
"Rice played very well in the second half to get back into it but our defense held up and defended well to the final whistle. Colleen made the saves she had to make and did very well on crosses and serves in dangerous places," Stone stated.
The Red Raiders now head north for the Notre Dame Inn at St. Mary's Soccer Classic Fri., Sept. 3 and Sun., Sept. 5. Tech faces Ole Miss on Friday at 4 p.m. CDT and Notre Dame on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CDT.