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Madi Starrett’s instant impact on the soccer team

Madi Starrett’s instant impact on the soccer team

Madi Starrett’s instant impact on the soccer team
June 04
11:30 2021

On a young soccer team made up of eight upperclassmen and 20 underclassmen, freshman defender Madi Starrett carved out an early role for herself at North Texas this past season.

Entering the rotation from the start, Starrett played in all 10 regular season matches and started in nine. In fact, she appeared in the fifth-most minutes on the team at 829. Starrett took advantage of the early playing time in tallying one goal and a team-high four assists this past season.

“It was like, we’ll bring her in, put her on a decent scholarship [and] give her a chance,” head coach John Hedlund said. “She just took off with it. […] She hit it straight on right from the beginning and we haven’t really taken her off the field as a freshman, which is amazing.”

Given her performance, Starrett was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team at the end of the regular season. She said playing high-level soccer from a young age helped with her quick transition to the college game.

“Growing up, I always played [soccer] at a high level,” Starrett said. “[Coming to college,] I knew the competitiveness, I knew what I needed to do to help a team. In club, I took the free kicks, I took the corners, I always got the most assists on every team I’ve been on. I just took that and kept it going into my college career.”

Within her early experience, Starrett said she began playing on a soccer recreational team at four years old and said dominating opponents then fueled her love for the game.

“On my rec team, we beat teams like 20-0,” Starrett said. “My best friend and I were the lead scorers and [she is] now a freshman starter at the University of Texas, so that’s pretty cool how we both started on the same team and both ended up going to college for soccer. The feeling of crushing teams when I was like five years old just made it enjoyable. I’ve always been competitive so that was just fun for me.”

Starrett was playing soccer less than an hour from the North Texas campus at Lebanon Trails High School in Frisco, Texas, when Hedlund first saw her in action.

“She wasn’t heavily recruited, which surprised me,” Hedlund said. “I went out and watched her play and I really liked her. Just her work ethic, she has an incredibly strong right leg. She can hit a ball a good 60 yards and if you look at her frame you think, ‘Where is she getting her power?’ She is highly competitive, an all-around player, great kid, great character, outstanding grades.”

While Starrett said staying close to home and playing for Hedlund were important parts of her decision to play for North Texas, some other factors were also important to her.

“The style of play was big for me [in choosing North Texas],” Starrett said. “We’re a very direct team, which I love to do because I like to play long balls up to the forwards. [Also], it’s kind of weird to say, but the money aspect and getting my college paid for was a big part of it. It helps my parents who have been paying for my club soccer for who knows how many years and that’s not very cheap.”

In jumping right into the college game, senior midfielder Elle Marie DeFrain said Starrett’s physical fitness was key.

“Her fitness is absolutely amazing, it’s one of the best ones on the team,” DeFrain said. “Fitness matters to our coach, so seeing that fitness and seeing she can play a full 90 minutes is important. The longer she’s on the field, the more opportunities she can grant our attackers. Part of it is definitely her fitness, really just focusing after her senior year of high school to just get on the grind and not come in flat [or] slow. She came in fast, she came in strong, and now it’s rewarded her.”

With three senior defenders departing from North Texas’ 2019 team, Starrett stepping in as an early starter was integral to the team’s defense.

“[Starrett was] one of the better players in the back on our defense,” Hedlund said. “We lost some key players but we’ve had others who have stepped up. [Starrett is] a kid we feel we can leave out on the field for 90 minutes. That’s been one of the freshmen we’ve been able to just leave alone and she’s done great things for us.”

Freshmen defender Madi Starrett attempts to push a UTSA defender away from the ball on April 9, 2021. Image by Zach Thomas

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John Fields

John Fields

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