North Texas Daily

No, they did not win the C-USA tournament, but this year’s North Texas soccer team was still good

No, they did not win the C-USA tournament, but this year’s North Texas soccer team was still good

North Texas senior midfielder Marchelle Davis (11) moves a ball past a Marshall defender on September 22. Dylan Nadwodny

No, they did not win the C-USA tournament, but this year’s North Texas soccer team was still good
November 07
11:20 2016

Despite losing in the semi-finals of the Conference USA soccer tournament, which likely cost them an NCAA tournament berth, this year’s North Texas soccer team was good.

But what else is new?

Historically, as the most distinguished and successful sports program at UNT, the Mean Green pride themselves on winning and excellence. The team finished their year at 15-5-1 after Friday afternoon’s loss to Florida Atlantic University.

That’s right. They only lost five games.

After covering the team for the entire season and experiencing the highs and lows, I have come to a conclusion. This year’s team was not only good, but ranks up there with the best teams this school has seen.

A few weeks ago, head coach John Hedlund was sitting in Rudy’s BBQ restaurant, most likely against his will. Accompanied by two radio hosts, he answered a bevy of questions just minutes after helping himself to a barbeque plate for dinner.

While speaking, he mentioned the 2015 soccer team was the best in his 22 years of coaching at North Texas.

This was his opinion, but this year’s team was not far behind.

Defensively, the 2016 squad overcame two arduous injuries to sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Bradley and senior center back Alexsis Cable, and were still an extremely effective unit. Even though it did impact them, the Mean Green were still one of the best defenses in C-USA.

After all, they only allowed 1.05 goals per game, barely half of what their offense averaged.

When it comes to the glamorous side of the ball — offense — the 2016 team boasted athletic finishers that opened up the game for the whole team. The athleticism diced up opposing defenses and often led to scoring outbursts.

The offense put up two or more goals in 13 of 21 games and was only shutout five times.

But perhaps North Texas’ greatest attribute was its immense amount of depth at every position. With nine players off the bench that could come in and play at a high level, Hedlund was free to play any style needed without having a drop in talent.

Rarely did this team allow you to be bored while watching them. Between their physicality, dynamic offense and knack for winning games, especially in Denton, it truly was a treat to see them on the pitch.

After every practice, Hedlund would scurry over to his office to look at Xs and Os and mull over everything he’d seen from that day. When he was told that I had a few questions for him, he never failed to groan before peeling his eyes from the computer screen that displayed numerous names and numbers.

Walking up to his desk alone is daunting. He has his seven conference championship rings neatly encased in a ring holder, along with a few posters of him as a player — all of which feel like they are staring at you waiting to go in for the tackle.

His thoughtful, and often lengthy responses always gave a deeper look into his head and just how he perceives the “beautiful game.”

Hedlund is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the coaches in Conference USA.

He mentioned after winning the regular season conference title, that the likes of Marshall and Middle Tennessee fell off this year, and spoke about how hard it is to be consistent in college sports.

As long as Hedlund is at the helm, this program will continue to thrive.

So expect even more winning from the Mean Green soccer team.

The aforementioned depth will now turn into even more quality starters and rotation players. They get Bradley back in net next year, which will entice healthy competition between her and freshman Miranda Schoening. And while they will miss their four senior leaders both statistically and morally, If you don’t trust Hedlund by now, well you must be new here.

This year’s team went 9-1 in Conference USA play, and was the only team in Hedlund’s 22-year tenure to win 90 percent of their games in conference play.

So no, this team did not win the C-USA tournament. And no, they do not have gaudy stats. But this squad overcame injuries, had excellent leadership and continuously made the entire school proud as they consistently won games.

While they might not be the best team in school history, the 2016 soccer team was still damn good.

Featured Image: North Texas senior midfielder Marchelle Davis (11) moves a ball past a Marshall defender on September 22. Dylan Nadwodny

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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