North Texas soccer relying on depth and bench production

North Texas soccer relying on depth and bench production

North Texas freshman freshman forward Brittnye Loewen (6) turns to run up the field against Abilene Christian on August 28th. Dylan Nadwodny

North Texas soccer relying on depth and bench production
September 15
11:38 2016

Occasionally to end practices, head coach John Hedlund sets up a 20-minute scrimmage between the starters and the substitutes. Three weeks ago, the subs scored first, but no one on the field or sidelines was surprised.

This past Tuesday, the two sides scrimmaged again. This time, the starters scored first and held onto a 1-0 win in this miniature exhibition.

“I think we have a lot of depth on this team,” Hedlund said. “When we scrimmage out here, both teams are pretty even so that gives me confidence going into games.”

John Hedlund, UNT soccer coach, leads the mean green women into victory Friday at Denton High School. The game on Friday was Hedlund's 300th win as a coach.

John Hedlund, UNT soccer coach, leads the mean green women into victory Friday at Denton High School. The game on Friday was Hedlund’s 300th win as a coach. Tomas Gonzalez

This year’s North Texas soccer team has immense depth. Through the first eight games of the 2016 season, the Mean Green averaged nine substitutes per game.

The bench is made up of a concoction of all grades. Senior forward Hailey Sutton has played in every game and averages nearly 24 minutes per game. Freshmen also contribute to this bench unit as Brittnye Loewen, Logan Layn, and Madeline Guderian all average over 22 minutes per game.

“I think we shock teams with our depth,” sophomore forward Lauryn Bruffet said. “We’re able to sub in a ton of people and give people fresh legs, and our subs always bring in a ton of energy.”

Bruffett is one of the five players on the team that has experience both starting and being a sub to start a game.

Another player with a year of prior experience is sophomore defender Bailey Johnston, who has played in five games and averages over 21 minutes.

And with a good part of the season gone, it has become clear regardless of the opponent or the stage, Hedlund believes in his bench to produce.

“It’s really nice to know that he trusts us,” Johnston said. “Even if we’re not starting, we know that he has just as much confidence in us as he does for the starters.”

Eighteen players have played over 100 minutes in 2016, and every girl on the roster has played at least 24 minutes this year. However, no one on the team is more versatile than Loewen.

Loewen has started one game this year and is a Swiss army knife of sorts, playing any position the team needs her to. Whether it’s defender, midfielder or forward, she’s played it.

“I come into the game expecting to do whatever John [Hedlund] needs me to do,” Loewen said. “If he needs subs up top, then that’s me. If we’re playing a tough team in the back, then that’s me. I kind of mentally prepare beyond what he says.”

North Texas sophomore forward Lauryn Bruffett (12) looks for a teammate to pass to upfield against Abilene Christian. Dylan Nadwodny

North Texas sophomore forward Lauryn Bruffett (12) looks for a teammate to pass to upfield against Abilene Christian. Dylan Nadwodny

Having a bench that understands the game plan has become quite the advantage for the Mean Green. It’s this engagement that leads to smooth, effortless transition from starters to substitutes during games.

“I just try to read the game,” Johnston said. “Where am I going to be once I go in, who is the player that I am going to be marking. I just try to keep engaged even though I’m not playing.”

Even though every player is ready to go at a moment’s notice, mindsets vary from player to player.

Girls that come off the bench approach and prepare for games differently than the regular starters. Because of this, the reserves have found a rhythm in their rotations and become used to coming on and being effective regardless of the situation.

“There’s not a difference in how I feel,” Bruffett said. “But, I think coming off of the bench, you have the opportunity to bring energy onto the team, and that’s a cool opportunity to have.”

The Mean Green subs have been, and will remain crucial as the team often plays on Friday nights then Sunday afternoons — schedules that are grueling on play’s bodies.

The ability to rely on his bench has not only kept North Texas in games, but allowed for the starters to properly rest.

“[Our depth] was really encouraging when we played Arkansas,” Hedlund said. “We brought ten off of our bench and they only brought two.”

Since North Texas’ substitutes are so dynamic, a number of them are able to come on and change the complexion of the game at any time.

Against Abilene Christian University, the Mean Green were down 2-0 when Bruffett came on in the 16th minute and scored just five minutes later. When the team played Oregon State, in a 110 minute 0-0 draw, six players came on and preserved the result for North Texas.

In most games, the bench provides something the starters sometimes can not.

“We always look for a spark,” Hedlund said. “And sometimes we need that, just look at the Abilene Christian game.”

With Conference USA play beginning on Sunday, the question is whether the rotations will shrink once the critical part of the season comes around.  In the end, the coaching staff will make that decision when the time comes, but one thing is certain.

Hedlund believes the substitutes are a pivotal part of the team.

“You can always go back to your starters during a game,” Hedlund said. “But it’s good to know we have some solid players coming off of the bench.”

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

Search Bar

Sidebar Top Ad Banner

Social Media

Sidebar Top Block Ad

The Chestnut Tree Bistro

Flytedesk Ad

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @RebeccaNajera42: @spicer_alec: This is exciting. I don’t think we’ve ever had two black editors back to back before in @ntdaily history…
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @bayyleigh_: Hope everyone has a relaxing summer and remembers to support student media 💚 https://t.co/YG1lMxww8n
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
Congratulations to our new summer and fall Editors-in-Chief, Jelani Gibson and Rebecca Najera!Jelani will get th… https://t.co/jsV5TI2UMR
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @HiggsUNT: Waiting for graduation to start and we spent 20 minutes frantically trying to know if we were lined up correctly (last name,…
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @HiggsUNT: Very grateful for the opportunity to write for @ntdaily, and for the entire editorial board and section staff that contribute…
h J R

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad