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Mean Green soccer dominating opponents at home

Mean Green soccer dominating opponents at home

North texas graduate student forward Hailey Sutton (3) celebrates with senior midfielder Marchelle Davis (11) after a goal scored by North Texas against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny

Mean Green soccer dominating opponents at home
October 02
22:23 2016

Nearly eight years ago, the Mean Green soccer team was throttled 3-0 by Denver University at home on senior night.

Since the loss, 95 months have passed and 36 home games have been played. In that span, North Texas has gone 34-0-2. The team has gone from Sun Belt to Conference USA. The Mean Green’s dominance on its own pitch is evident, as the team has gone virtually unscathed for the past seven seasons.

Junior midfielder Katie Gernsbacher played for the University of Texas as a freshman and notices a different approach from head coach John Hedlund when they play in Denton.

“John really stresses winning at home a lot more than any coach I’ve played for,” Gernsbacher said. “He knows the streak. He knows if you win games at home it’s the easiest thing you can do in the long run for the team.”

Hedlund made adjustments to the field before the team’s fourth home game against Texas Southern University. He widened the field to almost 75 yards in hopes of giving his speed players more room to operate on the wings.

The field itself has played a role in the Mean Green’s success, as the midfielders have been given more space to make passes to their forwards while pressing outside backs.

“It helps us spread out the field,” senior midfielder Anna Flobeck said. “[It also] spreads the team out [and] we can play more of our style. Getting out wide and using our space is what we do best.”

The routines several players go through on game day have gone a long way in helping them feel more comfortable at home. When North Texas plays in the familiar confines of the Mean Green Soccer Complex, the team’s intensity is different.

And visiting teams are usually unable to match their edge.

“In the locker room, we definitely talk more about how we want to do better on this field and get the crowd involved,” freshman defender Dominique James said. “Because when we’re away the crowd is not for us, so here we try to get them involved and get that first goal.”

Striking first is another intangible that can help set the tone for a match, especially at home. On two occasions this season, however, the Mean Green have been forced to come from behind.

“I think preparing for games is always easier at home,” Gernsbacher said. “When you’re on the road you’re getting on a bus and you don’t have time to do those things you need to do and those rituals you need to do.”

Though the Mean Green Soccer Complex barely holds 400 people, the spectators who show up are loud and expressive. They frequently encourage the team and individual players throughout the game, and help make the playing experience even more enjoyable for North Texas – but not the opposition.

“[I enjoy] the fans,” James said. “I know my friends and family are out there watching me play and it’s fun playing with your team and having everyone cheering.”

Currently, the Mean Green boasts the longest home conference unbeaten streak in the country. In eight years, North Texas has not lost a game in Denton.

And they don’t intend on making it any easier on visiting schools anytime soon.

“We want to make our friends and family really proud whenever we’re out here,” Flobeck said. “And with the atmosphere that we have, it makes it pretty easy to win games here.”

Featured Image: North texas graduate student forward Hailey Sutton (3) celebrates with senior midfielder Marchelle Davis (11) after a goal scored by North Texas against Western Kentucky. 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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