North Texas Daily

In good hands: Soccer confident in fall semester’s preparation for spring

In good hands: Soccer confident in fall semester’s preparation for spring

In good hands: Soccer confident in fall semester’s preparation for spring
November 21
18:42 2020

With the spring season inching closer for North Texas soccer, the club feels confident their fall semester training and practices are enough to ride into the regular season as the previous three Conference USA champions. The confidence North Texas soccer has is trusting in head coach John Hedlund to lead the continued streak of 25 straight winning seasons and 16 championships approaching his 26th season.

“We’ve been able to continue getting solid work and practices in with their strength and conditioning coaches throughout each week,” Hedlund said. “[The players] understand that it takes just a few to go outside the circle to test positive and potentially wipe out half of the team. They know we have to do everything the right way and follow all the rules to get to where we want to be. We’re a young and very talented group.”

One area specifically Mean Green soccer felt improved was team bonding and recognizing the outside temptations. The players came together in making a pact to limit outside contact to avoid the chance of testing positive for COVID-19 in the weekly rounds of testing.

“As a whole, everyone handled the fall very well because our team came together and just bonded well,” sophomore defender Taylor Hunter said. “Since we had the extra time all of us were able to get along great and share our common goals for what we wanted for the spring. Everyone knew it would be easy to go out and be careless during a pandemic but we came together thinking about the consequences if something bad happened and we wouldn’t be able to play.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA soccer season spanned between August and ended in December, leading to a spring offseason. In August, C-USA officials announced the season would be pushed to the next semester.

North Texas soccer was unable to participate in scrimmages from local Texas colleges during the fall, where the team practiced its main competition against each other during the semester.

In her first semester of college soccer, freshman midfielder Devyn Flannery said it was a different experience for her and other freshmen players to adapt to the changes C-USA implemented for the soccer programs.

“With all of the changes and new protocols, it’s a little bit different from how I thought my first semester would play out by not having games,” Flannery said.  “It’s still a great feeling to see the seniors and upperclassmen lead the way by making things easier for us during the process. They’re the ones who constantly remind the rest of the team that every practice, workout and the entire fall semester will be worth it when we do play.”

Intra-squad scrimmages were one of the main things the team worked on during the fall to replace scrimmages against other soccer programs, where the starters and backups faced off against each other.

Weekly COVID-19 testing will likely be enforced in the spring for C-USA soccer teams. If starting players were to miss from testing positive or be ruled out for contact tracing, the team feels confident in the depth and talent of the roster to win games.

“Knowing the kind of depth we have as a team, the knowledge and wisdom of the coaching staff and the big game experience from our seniors have is what makes us solid this year,” Hunter said. “When we have inter-squad scrimmages, our [backups] still have the talent to step in to do their job if someone were to be out for testing positive or the contact tracing.”

During the national signing week, seniors Elle Marie DeFrain, Brooke Lampe and Berklee Peters announced they would return for the fall 2021 semester after the NCAA granted fall athletes the ability to retain eligibility.

As the semester closes and the spring season approaches, the team feels they are in good hands under Hedlund and his coaching staff, along with the seniors making an impact and returning an extra year.

“These seniors are someone you look up to as a young player because they set the standard of how you’re supposed to play in their respective positions,” Hunter said. “[Lampe] and I play the same positions, and we have [Peters] who plays up top. They’re really good players who have been in big games and make a huge difference for us.”

North Texas soccer has not announced the schedule for the 2021 spring season as of Nov. 17. The school’s athletics department will release a schedule in the near future.

Featured Image: Senior forward Berklee Peters opens up for a shot against FAU on Nov. 10, 2019. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Preston Rios

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