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Why North Texas’ starting goalkeeper is still undecided four games into the season

Why North Texas’ starting goalkeeper is still undecided four games into the season

August 30
22:32 2017

With two strong candidates vying for the job, North Texas soccer coach John Hedlund is hesitant to name a full-time starter at goalkeeper four games into the season.

Last season, Hedlund rolled with Brooke Bradley in the early part of the season as the then-sophomore led the Mean Green to a 7-3-1 start. But when Bradley went down with an injury against Marshall, then-freshman Miranda Schoening took over and finished out the year with an 8-2 record.

Hedlund opened 2017 with Schoening in goal but isn’t committing to using just one goalkeeper after a 2-2 start.

“Miranda played well in the preseason,” Hedlund said. “She works extremely hard and has great hands to go along with her height advantage. But I just don’t see myself going with one keeper the entire season.”

Hedlund said both Bradley and Schoening have proven that they are capable of being the team’s starter but he is looking for more consistency from both players. The two will battle throughout the season for the starting spot, and Hedlund has no issues splitting time until one completely outplays the other.

Schoening has started all four games so far this year, recording two shutouts in wins against Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian. She allowed a combined three goals in losses to Power Five programs in No. 17 Arkansas and Texas and has tallied a total of 17 saves.

Bradley’s only live action at goalkeeper this year came late in the loss to Texas when she logged just over eight minutes on the net. She entered the game after Schoening had spilled a couple Texas shots back into the Mean Green box. Texas earned the winning goal off of a rebound.

While it is a small sample size, Schoening has lowered her goal against average from 1.16 in 2016 to .77 this year. She credited a strong offseason for helping her feel more comfortable entering the season.

“My fitness wasn’t very good last season,” Schoening said. “I busted my butt all summer to improve that. I worked out every day, twice a day, and ran 10Ks during the week. It’s a real confidence booster to come in and play knowing my hard work pays off.”

Even with that improvement, Schoening agreed consistency is what’s lacking in her game.

“I think it’s all about playing to the best of my ability,” Schoening said. “I have my really good games and saves, but I also have my fair share of mistakes just like everyone does. I just have to keep working and overcome that.”

When it comes to comparing the two players, Hedlund noted part of what gives Schoening an edge is her 6-foot-1-inch frame. Bradley has more experience as a junior though and has grown into a team leader over the years.

“Brooke is just an extremely hard worker and definitely one of are more conditioned athletes,” Hedlund said. “As for Miranda, her height rarely allows balls to go over her head and she does a great job at tipping balls over the goalpost.”

Hedlund added he is comfortable with either player in the net at this point, which is a sentiment the rest of the team echoed.

“Every single of our goalies, in my eyes, has the potential to be our starter,” senior defensive standout Tori Phillips said. “I have full confidence in whoever is behind me.”

For now, the competition remains between Schoening and Bradley. With Friday’s road game against Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi canceled due to the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, the two will have a few extra days to gain some ground before taking the field against Houston Baptist on Sunday.

Hedlund left the door open as to how playing time would be divided moving forward.

“Both of them will get plenty of playing time throughout the season,” Hedlund said. “Miranda is only a sophomore, she’s still learning the game. It’ll come to her, but at the same time, Brooke needs to continue to be on that field for us as well.”

Featured Image: Sophomore goalkeeper Miranda Schoening catches the ball in a game against Texas on August 26. This is Schoening’s sophomore year with Mean Green soccer and her first year as starting goalkeeper. Sara Carpenter

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Luis Diosdado

Luis Diosdado

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