North Texas Daily

Mean Green soccer looking for fifth consecutive C-USA title

Mean Green soccer looking for fifth consecutive C-USA title

Mean Green soccer looking for fifth consecutive C-USA title
August 29
11:25 2018

The North Texas soccer team is back in action as they try to win their fifth consecutive Conference USA championship. They’re calling it “The Drive for Five.”

Only Memphis University has won five consecutive conference championships in the history of C-USA soccer, so another Mean Green championship would tie the record.

John Hedlund has been the head coach for the North Texas soccer team since it was founded in 1995. He has an overall record of 330-125-32 after Monday night’s game against Santa Clara.

The Mean Green soccer program has never recorded a losing season since its founding. Despite the fact that the soccer program has only been in place for 23 years, Hedlund’s soccer teams lead all North Texas sports with 13 conference championships.

When asked about what it would take to win a fifth straight conference championship, Hedlund said that North Texas needs to play with consistency and avoid injuries.

“We just need to keep playing the way we’re playing,” Hedlund said. “We need to keep playing well, working hard and peak at the right time before conference.”

Another huge factor in winning 13 conference championships is protecting the home field. The Mean Green have done that by going undefeated in 44 consecutive games at home, an NCAA best. They haven’t lost a home game since Oct. 31, 2008 and are 41-0-3 during that stretch.

The win against Southeastern Louisiana this past Friday marked the 100th win at the Mean Green Soccer Stadium, which was built in 2006.

“We love playing at home,” Hedlund said. “Our players love playing in front of their family and friends. They love our field. We take care of business at home and try to steal as many wins as possible on the road. It’s a good recipe for success, and we’ve been able to do it year in and year out.”

North Texas has already raced off to a fast start in the early part of the 2018 season. They posted a 2-1-1 record with dominating wins against Incarnate Word (3-0), Southeastern Louisiana (4-0) and a 1-1 tie against a very talented Alabama team. Their only loss was on the road Monday night to the University of Santa Clara, who is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation.

Senior forward Aaliyah Nolan has also had a terrific start as she scored three goals in the first three games of the season. She recorded two of those goals in a breakout performance during last Friday’s game against Southeastern Louisiana.

“This start has definitely boosted my confidence,” Nolan said. “This has been one of my best years so far. It is my last year to play college soccer, so I definitely want it to be my best year. Three goals in three games — it’s a good start for me.”

The speedy forward is from Warwick, Bermuda and is the first international player in program history. Nolan has been a part of the Bermuda national team since 2013. She transferred to North Texas following the 2016 season from Navarro College where she was the leading goal scorer.

North Texas senior Aaliyah Nolan dribbles the ball in a game against Southeastern Louisiana University on Aug. 24. The Mean Green defeated SLU 4-0. Sara Carpenter

Nolan said she loves to perform well for her team, her fans and other international players who think coming to another country to play soccer might be frightening.

“I love to show a lot of people that coming into another country doesn’t have to be scary,” Nolan said. “Just do you, and everything will work itself out.”

Coach Hedlund said this particular team has a lot of new faces but is still considered a veteran team. One of those new faces he considers a veteran is redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Brann.

Brann was named C-USA Goalkeeper of the Week on Aug. 20 due to her two outstanding performances against Incarnate Word and Alabama. There were 31 shots that came her way over the course of those two games, and only one of those shots went in for a goal.

“I was very excited to win the award,” Brann said. “I’m a redshirt freshman, so I didn’t get to play last year. Winning the award the first week of pre-season was an awesome feeling for me.”

Some might wonder how a redshirt freshman has any college experience. Well, due to being injured and getting tagged with a medical redshirt, she doesn’t. However, she has played international soccer for both the Mexican and United States national soccer teams, and even played in the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Amman, Jordan.

The goalkeeper for the Mean Green transferred from the University of Tulsa at the end of last season, where the Golden Hurricanes went 3-12-4. She has already found immediate success here at North Texas and gives credit to Coach Hedlund, who she believes is a winner.

“The off-season and on-field training really prepares you to play to the best of your ability and win as many games as possible,” Brann said. “Coach Hedlund is meticulous about all of the little details that go into winning a match. He wants to win.”

The Mean Green also returns the 2017 C-USA Tournament Defensive MVP in senior defender Dominique James. James was an All-Conference USA First-Team defender last season and was named a team captain toward the end of the season for her leadership and work ethic.

“Dom is one of the best players in the country at her position,” Hedlund said. “Not a whole lot of people can beat her with the speed she has.”

The Mean Green’s next game will take place on Thursday, Aug. 30 at Weber State, and their next home game will be Sunday as they host the University of Pittsburgh.

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore Elle Defrain dribbles the ball in a game against Southeastern Louisiana University on Aug. 24. The Mean Green defeated SLU 4-0. Sara Carpenter

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Bronte Hermesmeyer

Bronte Hermesmeyer

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