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How talented freshmen are making an immediate impact for North Texas soccer

How talented freshmen are making an immediate impact for North Texas soccer

September 19
11:17 2017

Head coach John Hedlund blows his whistle three times to signal the end of another intense practice for the North Texas soccer team. Hedlund calls for a huddle with the players, speaks some words of encouragement to his team and then calls it a day.

Players and coaches begin to leave the field – except for the freshmen, who are tasked with picking up the balls and moving the goal posts off to the side.

It’s typical for freshmen to be handed the grunt work for a team at the college level as they put in their time hoping to earn a spot on the roster.

These aren’t just any freshmen Hedlund is dealing with.

The Mean Green have several newcomers who fill key roles in the starting 11 for the three-time Conference USA regular season champions. Freshmen Brooke Lampe, Berklee Peters and Logan Bruffett are among those who have earned significant playing time early in their career.

“The future is bright,” Hedlund said. “They’ve scored a majority of our goals offensively, and they have helped us in the back tremendously on defense.”

The Mean Green have built a name for themselves as a dominant soccer program under Hedlund, and even with the young roster, the expectations are high for the team to four-peat in C-USA.

The Mean Green are currently 4-2-1 and are preparing to open up the C-USA portion of their schedule. Hedlund knows the younger girls playing well is vital to the program long-term, but their success is just as important in the immediate future as well.

“I feel good about it,” Hedlund said. “They’ve never played in conference before where the stakes are a little bit higher. They’re playing well, we just have to remain healthy.”

One of the players who helped the team achieve the level of success it’s had over the last few years, Rachel Holden, graduated last season. The Mean Green needed someone to step up to fill her role as the sixth-leading scorer in program history, and while it’s still early, Peters is playing well beyond her years as the scorer North Texas needed.

After seven games played, Peters is tied for seventh in C-USA in points (11) and is fifth in goals (5) scored. Peters recorded a hat trick earlier this season versus Houston Baptist University, marking just the 10th time in school history the feat has been accomplished by a freshman.

Peters wants her fellow freshmen teammates not to only be remembered for their play this season, but also down the road after they graduate.

“I feel like we will be remembered as the freshmen who never gave up,” Peters said. “We have done a really good job throughout the season making a stand and playing really well together.”

Although Peters has been dominating on the field throughout the year, the amount of playing time she and her freshmen teammates have received is still somewhat of a surprise to the budding star.

“We all have played well and got a lot of playing time,” Peters said. “Which is good, because coming in here I did not think I would get half of the playing time that I am getting now.”

North Texas freshman defender Brooke Lampe kicks the ball in a game against Indiana Univeristy Sept. 10. North Texas tied Indiana University 3-3. Sara Carpenter

Lampe, another freshman who has caught Hedlund’s attention, is currently tied for fifth on the team with four total points and is tied for third on the team with two goals. Lampe knows the lore of playing for the Mean Green and uses the program’s history of success as motivation.

“The history helps us because they have the bar set so high,” Lampe said. “We knew coming in if we wanted to play we had to bust our butts and that set us up with a good mentality.”

Bruffett, whose older sister Lauryn also plays for the team, believes the level of competition on the team has also helped with the success of the freshmen on the field.

“The coaches stress competition a lot,” Bruffett said. “It is a healthy competition, though, that helps keep games and practices intense.”

Bruffett, who scored her first career goal off an assist from Peters against Indiana, has enjoyed the team chemistry during games and at practice this season. The positive communication from the older players and coaching staff has helped her and her fellow freshmen teammates feel right at home.

The positivity has also helped the freshmen grow more confident with each practice, and it shows with their play on the field.

“We do so well because we hype each other,” Bruffett said. “It’s not about someone doing better than me, it’s more the team is doing good, so we do what is best for the team.”

Senior midfielder Katie Gernsbacher and other upperclassmen have taken notice of the stellar play from the freshman class. Knowing how difficult it is for freshmen to come into a new environment, their poise has left an impact on some of the team’s veterans.

“They have been great, having the freshmen come in and do as well as they have says a lot about the program,” Gernsbacher said. “It says a lot about the type of people John [Hedlund] brought in this year.”

Gernsbacher, who is in her second year with the program after transferring from the University of Texas at Austin, has seen the play on the field from the freshmen and feels the program is in good hands when she leaves.

The bar has been set high, but the Mean Green are confident their talented group of underclassmen will only continue improve.

“It is only going to get better,” Gernsbacher said. “I want to succeed this year, but it gives me hope for when the seniors and juniors leave. They will still be successful.”

Featured Image: North Texas freshman forward Berklee Peters dribbles the ball in a game against Indiana University on Sept. 10. North Texas tied Indiana University 3-3. Sara Carpenter

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Matthew Berger

Matthew Berger

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