North Texas Daily

Bobby’s World: UNT soccer ready for conference play

Bobby’s World: UNT soccer ready for conference play

September 21
22:15 2011

OPINION

Bobby Lewis/ Senior Staff Writer –

Not all losses are created equally.

That sentiment seems to hold true in the UNT soccer team’s case.

On the surface, the last three games look pretty miserable. The team has lost all three games and has been outscored 8-2. To make matters seem worse, conference play is right around the corner with the first Sun Belt opponent coming to Denton Friday.

That opponent? Western Kentucky (5-3-0) – the same team that gave the Mean Green its earliest Sun Belt Conference Tournament exit in team history last season with a 3-0 win over UNT in the first round.

With all that going on, it’s easy to forget that before last weekend’s Nike Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., UNT (5-3-1) was two wins away from completing its most successful nonconference schedule in team history.

It would be foolish to let one bad stretch (that looks a lot worse than it actually was) diminish expectations for the Mean Green.

The losing streak started on the road against Baylor, where a banged-up UNT team was forced to play several players for the full 90 minutes, while Baylor was able to stay relatively fresh by bringing the entire city of Waco off its bench.

This past weekend, UC Riverside beat UNT by a goal in overtime on Friday, then Cal State Fullerton handed the Mean Green its most lopsided loss of the season with a 4-1 loss that Fullerton effectively ended in the first half with three goals in the span of four minutes.

Overtime losses happen. It’s nothing to lose sleep over. The loss to Fullerton is much more concerning until you hear UNT head coach John Hedlund say that loss was on him because he got “a little crazy with the substitutions” with a little less than 20 minutes left in the first half. Coincidentally, that was right before Fullerton scored its three goals. The teams played to a 1-1 stalemate in the second half.

You can make stats suggest whatever you want to make them suggest. On the surface, stats imply that the Baylor and Fullerton losses were both bad (Baylor outshot UNT 23-4). Look closer and you’ll see none of the three losses was bad.

It also shows that the team is ready for conference play.

Hedlund got “a little crazy” with substitutions on Sunday because he was trying to get a better handle on what works and what doesn’t work for conference play. Senior forward Kelsey Perlman, who is in her fourth season with the team, called the nonconference schedule the team’s “preseason.”

The Mean Green will start Sun Belt Conference play tied for the fourth-best record in the 12-team conference, which effectively means nothing because conference standings are determined by conference record, which UNT is very aware of.

Don’t let this losing streak fool you; this team is very ready for all its Sun Belt foes.

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