Monday, August 28, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 6 

Cougar Comics Online

Sports Opinion

About the Cougar

Soccer gets off on wrong foot, drops first two games

By Keenan Singleton
Daily Cougar Staff

The two games of the opening weekend for the UH soccer team were as different as night and day: Sunday's game was during the sweltering heat of the afternoon, while Friday's match was played in the breezy Houston night.

But the results were the same as the Cougars lost to No. 15 Southern Methodist 3-9 and to Texas Christian 0-1.

Sunday's game, a high-octane shoot 'em out affair, saw UH lose the reins to the Mustangs, who dominated the final 30 minutes of the contest, outscoring the Cougars 5-0.

Despite being handed their most lopsided defeat in the program's brief three-year history, the Cougars made the first three-quarters of the game competitive. UH trailed SMU by a single goal, 4-3, after freshman Nicole Aubuchon kicked in an unassisted goal with 56:29 on the clock.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Kara Bullinger goes after the ball in the UH soccer team's season opener against TCU. The Cougars lost the game 1-0.

"We were too soft," soccer head coach Bill Solberg said. "We need to learn how to tackle. We were playing the No. 15 ranked team in the nation and they're kicking us repeatedly and we keep letting them do it. That's all we're going to focus on in the upcoming week -- learning how to play physical."

SMU seemed to have an answer to each Cougar goal. It responded within five minutes to each UH score with a score of its own.

Freshman forward Nicole Aubuchon, who was playing in only her second collegiate game, scored the first Cougar goal of the year. She received the ball from last season's leading scorer, Kristen Hogan, and scored just one minute and one second after SMU's Sarah Harvey netted the first goal of the game at 7:37.

Aubuchon later scored Houston's only goal in the second half on an unassisted score.

"It was kind of bittersweet," Aubuchon said of her two goals.

Reserve forward Tracy Shankle came off the bench and kicked in a goal at 39:36 to cut the SMU lead to one, 3-2.

SMU forward Harvey garnered the hat trick as she scored two goals in the first period and her final one at 64:13.

Friday's match was a defensive showcase. Led by that staunch defensive effort, the Cougars nearly shut out TCU by allowing just a single goal with 16:59 remaining in the first half.

"We didn't show up the first half," Solberg said. "I think if we show up for 90 minutes, not 45, and finish some of our opportunities, it's not a game anymore. We didn't play with heart in the first half. The first half we were asleep. They came out too excited and wanted to play and came out too emotional."

"Unfortunately we didn't quite put it together in the first half," assistant coach Michelle Denommé said. "The second half, the girls did a 180. It was just 45 minutes too late.

"They may have been a little anxious in the first half," Denommé added. "First-game jitters -- there are a lot of things that could factor into it. They're great players, no doubt about that."

The Cougars controlled both sides of the field in the second half. They out-shot the Horned Frogs 9-8 and allowed no corner kicks.

"We played a good second half," Solberg added. "The second half we played with heart."

"They made a drastic improvement in the second half and I'm really proud of them," Denommé said.

With the two defeats, the Cougars dropped to 0-2 and a combined 0-5 against TCU and SMU.

UH will try to break the mini losing streak when it hits the road to face the University of Texas-El Paso and Texas this weekend before returning home to battle North Texas on Sept. 8.

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