North Texas Daily

Physical play lights fire under Mean Green soccer team

Physical play lights fire under Mean Green soccer team

Senior Lindsey Hulstein heads the ball back to her Mean Green teammates. Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor

Physical play lights fire under Mean Green soccer team
September 24
03:05 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

Often times in sports, unexpected trends arise through the beginning portions of a season. For the Mean Green soccer team, a recent string of physical games may be proving the team is living up to its moniker.

Through its first 10 games, North Texas has racked up 129 fouls and 18 yellow cards, each more than any other team in Conference-USA by a comfortable margin. Comparatively, Mean Green opponents have totaled just 96 fouls and eight yellow cards.

“We play hard, we work hard, we’re aggressive, and we’re intense. Sometimes that’s going to lead to fouls,” said head coach John Hedlund. “In some cases, it’s not a foul, but it’s being called. It might just be our reputation.”

While it’s impossible to tell if a reputation has formed, Hedlund’s squad has been strongly disciplined by officials in recent games. On Sunday, North Texas and Texas A&M University combined for 38 fouls, the most in any Mean Green game since 2013.

Senior midfielder Lindsey Hulstein said the team’s aggressiveness comes naturally and isn’t something the coaches stress.

“It’s just who we all are as players,” Hulstein said. “It’s a competitiveness in us that makes us want to get to the ball first.”

During a matchup against Texas Christian University on Sept. 13 in Fort Worth, some fans tweeted their concerns how they thought North Texas was playing, leading to a barrage of replies from the Mean Green faithful.

Hedlund said games against teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can get intense because opposing players are more familiar with each other. Regardless of location and the increased number of fouls, he also said his team plays the right way.

“We consistently go after the ball,” Hedlund said. “We don’t go after players, that’s for sure. That’s not that way they’ve been coached.”

Hulstein said the team becomes more and more aggressive as the game goes on, and the numbers back her up. Cumulatively, North Texas has 54 fouls in the first half of games compared to 72 in the second half.

In a hectic ending to a 1-0 win over Oral Roberts University on Friday, junior midfielder Alexsis Cable received a red card for a hard foul in the 89th minute. Quickly thereafter, junior forward Rachel Holden was given a yellow card with five seconds remaining in the game. Due to NCAA rules, each player was ineligible for the next game.

Even with the ejections, senior defender Molly Grisham said the team’s aggressive mentality motivates her even more when she steps onto the field.

“When we see our teammates working hard to win every single tackle and giving extra effort, that makes us work even harder,” Grisham said. “It kind of intimidates the other team whenever we’re trying to win every single ball.”

As North Texas jumps into its conference schedule at 8-2, Hedlund said his team will not change its style of play, regardless of the escalating number of fouls against his team.

“Whether it’s warranted or not, we have a team that plays very aggressive, works extremely hard and has a high work rate,” Hedlund said. “That’s it more than anything, rather than being an extremely physical team or what some cross-town fans might be saying is a dirty team. I just don’t believe that.”

Featured Image: North Texas senior midfielder Lindsey Hulstein attempts to block a header during a home game against Lamar. Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor 

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