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Friday, November 6, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 54


Tax Cut for Student Workers







About the Cougar
 

Soccer team surpasses all expectations in first year

By D. Ryan Monceaux
Sports Editor 

DALLAS -- Even with a premature exit from the C-USA Championships, the inaugural edition of the Houston soccer team far exceeded everyone's expectations for the fledgling program.

Twelve freshmen and a junior were members of the squad on the first day of classes. Shortly after, two fifth-year senior walk-ons were added to the mix to help contribute in any way possible. Just a few weeks into the season, the entire squad was gelling.

The first three matches of the season were virtually carbon copies of each other: three 0-1 losses during a stretch when the team was struggling to find an identity.


Though the Lady Cougar soccer team lost to Cincinatti in the conference championships this week, its achievements went far beyond anyone's expectations.

D. Ryan Monceaux/The Daily Cougar

The losing streak that began the year hit five matches after a weekend sweep on the road by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But the very next week, a new streak would begin -- one that would last for an entire month.

Sept. 18, history was made as Houston shocked then-No. 23 ranked Marquette 2-1 on the road. The first win in school history was followed up two days later with another victory, this time at DePaul, 2-0. The DePaul win also made history as the first shut-out in the history of the Cougar program.

From then on, it seemed every time Chris Huston's team took the field, history was re-written in one way or another. The winning streak hit four as UH blanked Louisville 4-0 at Robertson. It would be the greatest winning margin of the year.

Oct. 2, the team traveled to Southern Miss and pulled off a hard-fought 1-0 only five days after the Mississippi Delta region was ravaged by Hurricane Georges. Fifth-year senior Lisa Duffus scored the only goal of the match, her second of the season. Duffus would go on to score points in six of the final eight matches.

"I've had a wonderful season," Duffus said, "and this was the perfect way to go out. I really enjoyed playing with these girls this year."

Duffus was one of the keys to the Cougar attack in 1998. Duffus, a walk-on who ran four years on the UH track team, is now contemplating becoming a professional sprinter.

The Cougars rolled on with in-conference wins against Tulane, UAB and Memphis, with a win over the Southland Conference team McNeese State sandwiched in between. By this time, the Cougars' winning streak had hit an unbelievable nine games, the fourth-longest in the nation this season.

But then came showdown weekend. Games on Oct. 23 and 25 against South Florida and UNCC would determine who would be the regular season conference champion. The Coogs were locked in a battle where they could sweep the weekend set and take the conference title. However, fate would not be so kind.

The Cougars lost at USF 1-3 to the eventual conference champ. Duffus would score the only Cougar goal that night, and it would turn out to be the only UH score of the weekend. Houston then lost at UNCC 0-3 to drop from vying for a conference title to a third-place finish in the league. The Coogs would finish the season with two out of conference games, and both would result in injuries to key players.

UH beat Purdue 2-1 in double overtime Oct. 30. However, the win came with a price as midfielder Courtney Sabbe hurt her right ankle and would not play in the final game of the season or in the C-USA Tournament.

On the final day of the regular season, goalkeeper Michelle Denommé hit her head on a goalpost as she saved a potential goal. Susan Barra played the remainder of the game and got the win, as the Cougars scored two of their three goals within an 18-second span to beat Stephen F. Austin 3-1.

Wednesday, the Cougars wrapped up their inaugural season as they bowed out to Cincinnati in the first round 3-0. Forward Jennifer Allen twisted an ankle and had to be helped off the field. The loss was an untimely ending to an otherwise spectacular season for the Coogs, one that neither the players nor the coaches will forget any time soon.

"The kids never quit. We were pumped for this tournament after a wonderful season, and now we go and start preparing for next year," Huston said.

"We fought right to the end. It will only make us better for next year," Denommé said.

It is evident that none of the players expected to succeed as quickly as they did, but it was not a big surprise to them either. With season No. 1 in the books, look for the Cougars to come roaring back next year.

Reach Monceaux at 
dcsports@mail.uh.edu.
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