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Soccer eliminated in NCAA Tournament after Kerestine pre-game injury

Soccer eliminated in NCAA Tournament after Kerestine pre-game injury

Senior Lindsey Hulstein steals the ball for the Mean Green. Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor

Soccer eliminated in NCAA Tournament after Kerestine pre-game injury
November 13
22:46 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

The Mean Green soccer team’s season came to a close with a 1-0 loss to No. 18 Texas Tech University (14-3-5) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the fourth time North Texas made an NCAA tournament appearance, and the team missed out on advancing to the second round for the first time in school history.

North Texas (19-4-1) was without senior goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine after she suffered a broken fibula during pre-game warm-ups, which she confirmed via text message. Freshman goalkeeper Brooke Bradley took her place, making 10 saves in her second appearance of the season and her first career start.

“We all know what Brooke is capable of,” junior forward Rachel Holden said. “She’ll be really good next year without Jackie, and she stepped up really big.”

After being evaluated by trainers while the game began, Kerestine came back out on crutches to support her teammates throughout the game.

“She was crying. She was upset,” senior midfielder Karla Pineda said. “But the whole game, she was screaming from the sidelines, telling us to make good passes.”

The Mean Green defense did well clearing the ball when opportunities arose for Texas Tech early on. However, the Red Raiders scored the game’s first goal of the in the 26th minute on a shot fired above Bradley’s head off a pass from midfield to take a 1-0 first half lead.

Texas Tech nearly capitalized again in the 44th minute, but Bradley charged the ball and corralled it before anyone could get a shot off. Despite holding advantages in both shots (8-7) and corners (4-1), North Texas trailed headed into halftime for just the second time all season.

“We never give up or back down. We all still had faith,” Holden said. “We never lose confidence against any team.”

The competition stepped up a notch in the second half. Texas Tech got off 12 shots in the opening 20 minutes, including a header off a corner kick in the 52nd minute that bounced off the right crossbar.

Senior midfielder Karla Pineda found a hole in the defense and rocketed a shot from about 30 yards out that flew just wide of the top right corner in the 61st minute. Texas Tech had a nearly identical shot of its own just one minute later, but the score remained 1-0 as the clock continued to dwindle.

Senior forward Amber Haggerty’s shot in the 82nd minute was the only chance the Mean Green had to tie the game in the final ten minutes, but it flew wide of the net. Finding scoring opportunities was a struggle for North Texas down the stretch, getting out-shot 16-2 in the second half.

“Defensively, we were strong. We got some of the possession we needed to set up our direct play,” head coach John Hedlund said. “We got the opportunities that we needed. I thought our set pieces were solid.”

Although the outcome wasn’t what the team envisioned, the season was still one of the best Hedlund and North Texas has ever had. The Mean Green entered the NCAA Tournament with a nation-leading 19 wins, the most in any single season in school history.

Once the final buzzer sounded, tears flowed down the faces of nearly every player. For the class of eight seniors, the game was the last time they will wear a Mean Green uniform.

“I love all of them. We’ve become really close as a class,” Pineda said. “I’m going to miss all of them. I’m sure it’ll be the same for them.”

Featured Image: Senior Lindsey Hulstein steals the ball for the Mean Green earlier this season. Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor

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