North Texas Daily

Recap: Soccer snaps two match losing streak with pivotal conference win over Blazers

Recap: Soccer snaps two match losing streak with pivotal conference win over Blazers

Recap: Soccer snaps two match losing streak with pivotal conference win over Blazers
March 27
01:10 2021

After a 5-0 start to the season, the soccer team had lost its last two matches coming into a crucial Friday night showdown with the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

A 3-1 win over the Blazers (7-4-1, 2-2 Conference USA) ended North Texas’ (6-2, 3-1 C-USA) two-match skid and moved the Mean Green to No. 1 in the C-USA West division, ahead of the University of Southern Mississippi (5-2, 3-1 C-USA). The Golden Eagles defeated North Texas 2-1 on March 21 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but North Texas currently sits in first due to a higher overall win percentage.

With two matches remaining before the C-USA tournament, this was a key victory for the Mean Green’s chances to win their division.

“We’ve been in this position before where we needed that win to be able to stay in the game and be on top,” Senior forward Berklee Peters said. “We’ve been in this position before and I think we’re going to handle it in the next two games. Even though we got the loss, we know that we’re going to get these next two and hopefully we’re going to win [the conference].”

The Mean Green got the scoring started early and scored two goals in quick succession. First, Peters netted her third goal of the season 8:13 into the match as she headed the ball in off an assist by senior midfielder Brooke Lampe. Just over 1:30 later, senior midfielder Elle Marie Defrain scored a goal of her own off a pass from sophomore forward Allie Byrd. It was Defrain’s second goal of the season after she scored one in North Texas’ 7-0 season-opening win over Louisiana State University-Alexandria (3-4-1, 3-2-1 Red River Athletic Conference).

“On that goal, [I was] just [thinking] ‘Where is the ball?’,” Defrain said. “Staying on-side was important. I had to figure out where I was with the defense line, just making sure I’m not offsides. Then […] looking for the ball and just getting a foot on it. I got my toe on it, it went past the keeper and went in.”

Having assisted on Defrain’s goal, Byrd got in on the scoring herself a few minutes later with a header off a well-placed corner kick by freshman defender Madi Starrett at the 17:48 mark. The assist was Starrett’s fourth of the year, moving her to third on the team in points with six thus far. She trails Byrd and Peters who have seven points apiece.

“We play a lot better at home,” Peters said. “We just weren’t coming out strong [in the last two losses], so I really think that hurt us because we were having to catch up once we got those goals scored on us. I think we ended up fixing it this week.”

Returning from a concussion that kept her out of North Texas’ loss to Southern Mississippi, junior keeper Kelsey Brann saved seven of Alabama-Birmingham’s eight shots on goal. Southern Mississippi’s lone goal allowed came on a penalty kick after the Mean Green fouled Alabama-Birmingham senior forward Kamilah Mustafa within the penalty box.

“It was disappointing because last week I wasn’t there because I had a concussion, so I couldn’t really do anything about that one,” Brann said. “It’s very nice to win again. [In the saves,] it was mainly just staying focused and making sure my positioning was right. [UAB] had a really good offense and they had quite a few pretty good shots, but I feel like we handled it really well.”

Up Next: Soccer is back in action on April 2 with a road match against the University of Texas-El Paso (3-4-1, 2-1 C-USA) in North Texas’ penultimate match of the regular season. The Mean Green will then end the regular season with an April 9 home match against the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Featured Image: Sophomore forward Allie Byrd attempts to dribble past a UAB defender on March 26, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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