Barry Rice Leads Team to PDL Championship Game

Aug. 12, 2009

VENTURA, Calif. -- Kentucky All-American defender Barry Rice helped lead the Chicago Fire Premier to the National Finals of the USL Premier Development League, played Saturday night in front of 3,500 fans at Ventura (Calif.) Buena High School.

Rice, a senior defender, spent the summer playing for the Chicago Fire Premier in the top amateur soccer league in the nation, consisting of players under 23. The Parma, Ohio, native led the Fire Premier – a division of the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer – to a 14-2-5 record, including a 14-match unbeaten streak entering the championship game.

In the championship game, the Ventura County Fusion edged the Fire, 2-1, with a game-winning goal in stoppage time. Rice had one of the best chances to give the Fire the lead late in the match but his shot sailed just high of the crossbar in the 50th minute.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder had an excellent summer for the Fire, earning a mention on the PDL Team of the Week during the eighth week of the summer. Rice helped the Fire beat FC London (Ontario) in the next to last game of the regular season with a game-winning goal at Toyota Park. Rice also helped anchor a stingy defense that allowed only 14 goals all summer. The championship game appearance was the first for the Fire since the 2003 season.

During his sparkling three-year career at Kentucky, Rice has helped rewrite the UK record books and established himself as one of the top defenders in collegiate soccer. In 2008, Rice became the third All-American in program annals, when CollegeSoccerNews.com tabbed him second-team following the season. A 2009 preseason All-American and member of the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy National Player of the Year Watch List, Rice led UK to 12 wins and a berth in the Conference USA Championship game in 2008.

The only two-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Year in league history, Rice finished 2008 with a team-high 33 shots in 21 games, logging 1989 minutes. A superbly athletic player, Rice totaled two goals and one assist in 2008, just a year after carrying the offensive load for the 2007 season with seven goals and one assist. As a freshman in 2006, Rice totaled five assists and one goal in 21 games, earning All-Conference freshman accolades. With six career game winning goals – including three in 2007 – Rice ranks tied for sixth in UK career history.

UK will open its 2009 season with two exhibition games, beginning at the UK Soccer Complex on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. ET. After a road exhibition game at Marquette, UK will kick off its regular season with the annual UK Invitational, welcoming IUPUI, Louisville and Bowling Green for the two-day competition, starting Sept. 4. UK ran up 12 wins in 2008, finishing the year ranked No. 21 and checked in ranked 15th in the NCAA in scoring offense and 31st nationally in goals-against average.