HOUSTON - The power outages that plagued the University of Houston campus all afternoon were of no concern for the Cougar soccer team as they electrified the crowd with a 7-0 performance against Houston Baptist.
"I was very pleased with the results," head coach Susan Bush said. "We debuted a new look that really generates offense and increases our ability to finish. Our new tactics were evident today."
The Cougars unveiled their new 3-4-3 formation, a look that emphasizes scoring opportunities and creativity. A group of veterans and five freshman starters combined for an impressive offensive output.
"We were able to showcase our depth, about 18 of our girls were able to get in there and get some minutes. A lot of our freshman played today which is what we wanted since there will be a number of instant-impact players from that group," said Bush.
FIRST HALF Houston controlled the tempo from the start with excellent midfield play leading into many scoring opportunities. In the 13th minute, a long throw-in landed right on Byrne's head and she was able to skip it over the defensive presence in the goal box to a waiting Rhodes who then headed the ball in herself.
Eight minutes later, the roles reversed as Rhodes was able to pass the ball into Byrne who threw herself to the ground and poked the ball past a diving keeper and into the back of the net.
The backline for Houston thwarted any possible scoring chance with excellent coverage and clearances all afternoon. They were able to dictate the tempo from the bottom to the top with their strong showing.
SECOND HALF Cook scored the first goal of her career off Duarte's first career assist in the 60th minute. The former Challenge club teammates looked in sync and played off each other well, creating numerous scoring opportunities. Cook was routinely placing the ball in the box from distance and many of those ambitious passes found the feet of Duarte.
Perhaps the cleverest goal of the day was on a cross by sophomore Kaci Bush from the right side that was able to skip across the box and was then dummied by freshman Sami Sackos, which froze the defense. Adelman read the trick expertly and found herself all alone inside the box on the left side and blasted the ball past the opposition's keeper to make it 4-0.
Zavalza, who was creating havoc all day with her pace, tenacity and hustle, created the next scoring moment when she received an outlet ball from her backline and raced fifty-yards against HBU's defense to create a void in the backline. With the defense out of place, and out of breath, Kaitlin Thulin was able to drill the ball off her right foot for a fifth Houston goal.
Two freshman contributed on the final two goals. Sami Sackos had an unassisted goal late in the game and then in the 88th minute. Duarte provided an exciting score after she pulled off a number of stopovers on the ball and juked her defender inside the box, giving her all the clearance she would need to get a shot off and delivered a goal. Rhodes provided a timely assist down the flank for her.
UP NEXT The regular season begins at 7 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 22 when the Cougars face Sam Houston State at Robertson Stadium.
BUY SOCCER SEASON TICKETS NOW Soccer season tickets are on sale now for the low price of $50 for nine home games. The Houston Athletics Ticket Office allows fans the freedom to choose how they wish to use them with their flex ticket policy. Fans can either use one ticket per game, or invite eight other friends to enjoy a single game. The deadline to renew season tickets is August 23.
Fans can purchase season tickets by calling 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647), by visiting the Athletics Tickets Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by visiting here.