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North Texas soccer hosts Rice in battle of C-USA powers

North Texas soccer hosts Rice in battle of C-USA powers

Women's soccer head coach John Hedlund points to a player during a game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Hedlund has 12 conference championships and 300 plus wins under his belt with the Mean Green. Rachel Walters

North Texas soccer hosts Rice in battle of C-USA powers
October 24
19:36 2017

North Texas and Rice square off at the Mean Green Soccer Complex Friday in the latest installment of what has been an intense Conference USA rivalry.

The Mean Green (11-3-2, 6-1-1) lead the all-time series over the Owls (12-2-1, 9-0) 4-3-1, including wins in the last two regular-season meetings.

North Texas, which had its 11-game unbeaten streak snapped in a loss to Old Dominion University over the weekend, will not be regular season C-USA champions for the first time since joining the conference in 2013.

Rice clinched the regular season title on Sunday when they defeated Charlotte University 1-0, while the Mean Green were stunned by Old Dominion 3-1.

The Owls have won 10 straight games entering the contest.

Junior goalkeeper Brooke Bradley is making her second consecutive start against the Owls and said the Mean Green are coming into the game looking to make a statement against Rice before the C-USA tournament begins next month.

“If we win this game it is basically saying, ‘Rice, you are not the real champions, we are,'” Bradley said. “This is still a very big game for us, and it will help boost our confidence going into the tournament.”

Bradley feels that not being crowned regular season champs has some benefit, as there is less pressure on the Mean Green and more on the Owls.

“Honestly, by not winning the regular season it takes the target off our backs for the tournament,” Bradley said. “Everyone is not trying to beat us, they are trying to beat Rice.”

Offensively, the Owls have the No. 5 scoring offense in the country, scoring 43 goals and averaging 2.87 goals per game. Rice ranks No. 12 in assists, averaging 2.41 per game.

One of the reasons the Owls’ offense has been able to perform so well this season is the quality of shots they are taking.  The Owls rank No. 24 in shots taken (260) but rank No. 10 in shots on goal (127).

The Owls have allowed just 16 goals in 17 games and rank No. 38 in shutout percentage at .533.

Defeating the Owls would be the icing on the cake for the Mean Green’s regular season. Freshman Logan Bruffett knows how important this game is for her and her team.

“Rice is our top competitor and our rivals,” Bruffett said. “This is a team that we always want to beat. For our confidence too, we want to go into the tournament really strong and prepared.”

The Mean Green rank No. 21 in the nation with 38 goals and are No. 12 in scoring offense averaging 2.38 goals per game.

Much like the Owls, a key reason why the Mean Green are one of the top scoring offenses in the country is due to the quality of shots taken. North Texas is No. 5 in shots per game (324) and No.5 in shots on goal (143).

The Mean Green rank No. 56 in goals-against average, allowing 13 goals in 16 games and are tied for No. 43 in the country with a shutout percentage of .500.

North Texas will look to use those strengths to bounce back from a loss that caught the team off guard before its biggest match of the season.

“This game, we are going to put everything into it,” freshman Brooke Lampe said. “It is one of our last games at home, and it is a huge game. For our seniors, Rice hasn’t beaten us for the last few years and we don’t want to start it now. We want to keep that tradition going.”

Featured Image: Women’s soccer head coach John Hedlund points to a player during a game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Hedlund has 12 conference championships and 300 plus wins under his belt with the Mean Green. Rachel Walters

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Matthew Berger

Matthew Berger

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