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Mean Green soccer will play Texas A&M in NCAA first round

Mean Green soccer will play Texas A&M in NCAA first round

Mean Green soccer will play Texas A&M in NCAA first round
November 07
18:35 2018

The North Texas soccer team gathered in the Athletic Center Monday to watch the annual Soccer Selection Show, which determines who the Mean Green will square up against in the 2018 NCAA tournament.

After the show concluded, the Mean Green found out their road to a national championship will start  at 7 p.m. Friday in College Station, against No. 13 Texas A&M Aggies.

The Mean Green have made five previous NCAA Tournament appearances but have never won a game. Winning in the tournament is a goal head coach John Hedlund and his entire team set at the beginning of the year.

And they will have a chance to accomplish that goal and make history on Friday.

“We’re determined to try and get an NCAA win because it means a lot to us and [Hedlund],” senior Brooke Bradley said. “A win will also mean a lot for North Texas because it has never been done before.”

The last time the Mean Green and the Aggies battled on the pitch was on Sept. 20, 2015, during a regular season game. North Texas lost 2-1 after Texas A&M scored a game-winning goal in the final minutes of double overtime. Friday’s follow-up to this close match is something Hedlund thinks will draw Mean Green fans to College Station.

“We can get a lot of fans there because it is only about a three-and-a-half hour drive,” Hedlund said. “[A&M] has a great facility, so we’re excited to go down there. Last time we played them it was very close, so we can probably expect the same type of game.”

The seniors on this 2018 team were freshmen at the time, and Taylor Torres said the Mean Green have a better idea of what the atmosphere will feel like in such a big game.

“The stands are going to be filled, and they’re going to be smack talking to us,” Torres said. “After watching film, we’ll know what to expect and what the formations are going to look like. Hopefully we’ll be able to start fast, get the first goal and win.”

Texas A&M is coming into the match with a 15-4-1 overall record and a 6-3-1 conference record in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). However, the Aggies have been struggling as of late, losing three out of their last four matches and losing in the first round of the SEC Tournament to No. 17 South Carolina.

The Aggies have maintained an 11-1 record at-home, with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 18 Tennessee, who beat Texas A&M 4-0 this month.

North Texas (15-2-3, 8-1-1 Conference USA), on the other hand, is going into Friday’s match winning their last three matches, a regular season C-USA title and the C-USA Tournament. Torres said the team has played outstanding all year long, and the team’s confidence and chemistry is high going into Friday’s match.

“I think we’re playing some of our best soccer right now as a team,” Torres said. “The connection with the team is great, and we all get along together, which helps us play well together on the field.”

The North Texas defense ranked in the top 10 nationally on several different defensive statistics this season. Hedlund believes this team’s strong defense is unique and that this part of their game could help them make a run.

“Kelsey Brann is playing really well on goal, and you must have a great goalie when it comes to competing in the NCAA Tournament,” Hedlund said. “If you don’t then you have no chance. The fact that we have a strong defense helps, and we can build off that and go from there.”

After only losing two games all season — one being on the road at No. 5 Santa Clara — Bradley said she felt as if North Texas was disrespected by the committee because of the conference they compete in.

“I definitely think we should have been seeded higher and played someone other than Texas A&M,” Bradley said. “Coach Hedlund always tells us that as a team we are basically a Big 12 team playing in Conference USA. But we’re looking forward to going to A&M and probably smacking them in the mouth and hoping they underestimate us.”

When asked about his thoughts on this year’s tournament seeding, Hedlund said it doesn’t matter who plays each other at this point of the year.

“We knew they were most likely going to give us a Texas team,” Hedlund said. “It could’ve been Texas Tech, Texas or even [Texas Christian]. It doesn’t matter though because when you get to this point, they are all good.”

Featured image: Sophomore defender Logan Buffett dribbles the ball against a Florida Atlantic player on Oct. 19 at Guyer High School. Jordan Collard

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Bronte Hermesmeyer

Bronte Hermesmeyer

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