North Texas Daily

ICYMI: Soccer wins first conference game behind Tufts’ brace

ICYMI: Soccer wins first conference game behind Tufts’ brace

ICYMI: Soccer wins first conference game behind Tufts’ brace
September 17
19:19 2022

Soccer won its first Conference USA game of the season against the University of North Carolina-Charlotte 4-0 behind two goals from redshirt junior midfielder Taylor Tufts.

North Texas (5-3-1, 1-0 C-USA) played its first game against Charlotte (1-5-2, 0-1 C-USA) in Denton on Thursday night after losing to Texas Tech University at home on Sept. 11. The Mean Green started the scoring early with a goal from sophomore midfielder Grace Dennis in the sixth minute. The goal was her first of the season and came off an assist from Tufts on a free kick near the top right corner of the box.

“[If] we get a goal in the first half, it’s usually a win,” Tufts said. “So, it’s always a good battle and a great game when we can get [a goal] early.”

Tufts got an opportunity to score in the 26th minute after ball pressure forced Charlotte into an error near its goal. The goal put North Texas up early with a 2-0 lead in the first half, which was something the team focused on heading into conference play.

“When we get up early in the first half, we’re pretty much unstoppable,” Tufts said. “But sometimes when we get held off until the second half, that’s when we get closer scored games.”

When the first half horn sounded, the Mean Green outshot the 49ers 12 to five, and six of the 12 shots were on goal. The aggression from North Texas led to five corner kick opportunities and forced junior Charlotte goalkeeper Emma Wakeman into four saves.

Tufts scored her second goal of the night early in the second period on a pass from junior midfielder Avery Barron. The 52nd minute goal put North Texas up 3-0 and was Tufts’ fourth shot of the night.

In the next four minutes of play, Tufts fired three more shots before the 49ers cleared the ball from their side of the field. Entering the game, Tufts led C-USA in assists and was No. 5 in the nation in assists. In Tufts’ 66 minutes of play, she shot the ball seven times, scored two goals and logged an assist.

The Mean Green scored again when graduate student forward Olivia Klein kicked the game-sealing goal in the 86th minute. To score her seventh goal of the season, Klein beat her defender up the pitch and got past the goalkeeper for a chip-in. Head Coach John Hedlund said he was pleased to see many different players score early and often in their first conference game.

“Well [we have] a lot of options,” Hedlund said. “So, we’ve got a nice rotation where we can keep fresh legs out there all the time, and it’s a handful for any back line to contain that speed.”

North Texas out-shot the 49ers 21 to eight by the end of the game.

The victory against Charlotte put the Mean Green back in the win column after they lost three of their last four games, with the team not scoring more than two goals in any of them. The four-score game was a return to form for the North Texas offense that started out the season with four straight wins with four or more goals.

“We wanted to start out [conference play] the right way, especially at home,” Hedlund said. “So, 4-0 win’s a good win for us… It was a complete effort, and a few years ago, this was the team that knocked us out of the conference tournament, so we remembered that.”

The Mean Green face off against Florida Atlantic University in Denton at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Florida Atlantic (4-3-2) is coming off a 2-1 win against the University of Kansas before coming to Denton.

Featured Image: North Texas Redshirt junior midfielder Taylor Tufts duel with Texas Tech sophomore midfielder Cassie Taylor for the ball during a match on Sept. 11, 2022. Photo by Matt Iaia

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Paul Witwer

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