North Texas Daily

After rotating early, Bradley reclaims starting role

After rotating early, Bradley reclaims starting role

October 04
23:54 2017

In soccer, no position is more important than goalkeeper.

The goalie not only has to make spectacular plays blocking shots, but must instruct defenders to be in the correct position in order to stop opposing attacks and is also tasked with helping ignite a counter offensive through passes and goal kicks.

Having a goalkeeper you can trust to make the saves needed to protect a lead or preserve a scoreless tie is a priceless commodity.

After shuffling around early in the season, the Mean Green soccer team is confident they have that player in place.

Junior Brooke Bradley is playing phenomenal for North Texas this season, leading the team with a .857 save percentage and .067 goals against average. She is a key reason why the Mean Green are unbeaten in their last seven matches.

Bradley was the starting goalkeeper last year and started 11 games before a hand injury forced her to miss the rest of the season. The Mean Green were 7-3-1 with Bradley in the net.

She spent all offseason rehabbing her hand and came into the season battling with fellow goalkeeper sophomore Miranda Schoening for the starting job. Schoening earned the nod early in the season, but coach John Hedlund made the switch in favor of Bradley for the game against Indiana University.

The rest is history.

“I am healthy now,” Bradley said. “We were both fighting for the position, and I just won it now.”

Schoening was playing well herself with a save percentage of .852, but that just shows the type of season Bradley is having.

In the last four games, the Mean Green have allowed only one goal as the team has really started to get on a roll. Bradley started five of the last seven, all of which have resulted in the Mean Green walking away with at least a tie.

The defense has allowed just eight goals all season with six shutouts on the books. Sophomore defender Dominique James said having a goalie playing as well as Bradley is changes everything defensively.

“As defensive unit, we feel more confident as a unit with her,” James said. “At some points as a defender you have to pass back to the keeper, and if they can’t kick it or miss the ball it puts us in a bad spot, and we feel confident with Brooke.”

Communication is key defensively as North Texas continues to get deeper into Conference USA play. One of the reasons the Mean Green have been so effective recently is because of how well Bradley is communicating with her defenders.

“She is definitely communicating with us a lot,” James said. “She is defending a lot of shots that we kinda hold our breath on and it is definitely giving us that confidence boost that she has our back whenever we make a mistake.”

One of the noticeable changes with Bradley in the net this season is how well she sets up the offense down field. She is able to put the offense in position to make an attacking move, which continues to be important for the Mean Green.

“Her goal kicks and her punts go past midfield,” James said. “It is nice to know that our midfielders can flick it on and get our offense into action rather quickly.”

Offensive and defensive players have seen Bradley’s growth from her first game against the Hoosiers, when she allowed three goals, to now, where she has only allowed one goal in her last 380 minutes of play.

Junior forward Taylor Torres, who is tied for the team lead in goals with a career high five, sees from her perspective on offense just how well Bradley and the defense have been playing together lately.

Torres, who is roommates with Bradley, tried to motivate the goalkeeper while she was recovering from her hand injury and sitting on the sidelines to start the season. The two communicate with each other to try and help each other out with their games.

“While living together, we try to feed each other information about what we see,” Torres said. “There were times where  [Bradley] did not start, and I know I gave her feedback to just keep pushing herself and I told her she would get her job back.”

Currently, the Mean Green are 7-2-2 and are rolling through their C-USA competition, thanks in large part to stellar play from their most important position on the field – goalie. If Bradley’s play holds up, the Mean Green will be on well on their way to another conference title.

“I feel I can keep it going the rest of the year,” Bradley said. “We’re really trying to work towards that fourth ring, so that is what I want.”

Featured Image: Goalkeeper Brooke Bradley practices for the game against Western Kentucky on October 1, 2017. Cameron Roe

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Matthew Berger

Matthew Berger

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