The outgoing senior class steered Rice soccer through a year of transition, setting the Owls up for a future of sustained success under Brian Lee.
The Rice soccer senior class did so much more for the program than fill out the roster. Those women served as the clue for a group of players in the midst of a coaching transition. No matter how talented a team in any sport, change at the top can be challenging to navigate. The Owls didn’t seem to miss a beat. Head coach Brian Lee credits the seniors for making that possible.
“Lianne [Mananquil], Erin [Mikeska], Maya [Hoyer] and Louise [Stephens] are four of the strongest leaders I’ve ever coached in 25 years of doing this,” Lee said, acknowledging how challenging they will be to replace next season.
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Mananquil, Stephens and Mikeska each finished in the top four in points for the Owls this season. Hoyer was part of an effective tagteam with Bella Killgore at goal keeper. Using two keepers might not be Lee’s default going forward, but he couldn’t remove Hoyer or Killgore from the field entirely. “I felt like we had two goal keepers who would have started for at least 10 or 12 of the 14 SEC teams,” he declared.
Fortunately, the Owls will have Killgore to lean on at keeper next season. Up front, the next senior class will be waiting to take up the mantle. Haley Kostyshyn and Mijke Roelfsema are both coming off tremendous seasons. Lee also highlighted the growth of Trinity King who’s role grew as the 2019 season progressed.
Those are strong pieces. Lee hopes they can rise to the occasion. In his eyes, the outgoing senior class “made our transition for our entire staff so much easier… They were a dream. If every class at Rice is like those kids I’m going to have a great rest of my coaching career.”
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