North Texas Daily

Soccer freshmen hungry for more responsibility heading into year two

Soccer freshmen hungry for more responsibility heading into year two

April 17
22:02 2018

North Texas soccer is on a 23-year run unlike any other in Mean Green history. The team has never had a losing season dating back to 1995 when head coach John Hedlund took over the new program in its first season.

One of the keys to Hedlund’s success has been his ability to recruit from the area and having young players buy into the goals of the program.

The Mean Green finished 14-4-4 last season and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament after winning the Conference USA tournament. It was North Texas’ fifth NCAA tournament appearance overall and third in six seasons.

One of the main reasons for the program’s success last season was the stellar play of the freshman class.

Three of the top six goal scorers and two of the top four assist leaders for the Mean Green last season were freshmen. After losing two seniors from last year’s squad, 10 of the 23 players currently on the roster are freshmen heading into their second season with the team.

Freshman Ariel Diaz was one of the top goal scorers for the Mean Green last season, finishing tied for second in goals and tied for fourth in assists. Her 17 points were tied for second on the team in just her first season. However, Diaz, like all of the underclassmen on this roster, is not satisfied.

“I want to be better with my team [by] playing with more confidence and better communication,” Diaz said. “Developing our communication as a team will help us out better on the field.”

Diaz’s seven goals are tied for the fourth most scored by a freshman over the last five seasons. A staggering 18 of the Mean Green’s 49 goals were scored by freshmen last season, including two game-winners.

After being introduced to the winning culture of the program, Diaz and her teammates now know what to expect heading into the fall. The plan going forward is to show the new crop of freshmen how to continue their run of success.

“Individually, I know how to motivate myself more, being more confident in myself by taking more shots,” Diaz said. “I can come out here and put in extra work. Being a striker or forward on the team, I feel I have to work harder due to my responsibilities on the team.”

Another freshman who had an immense impact on the team last year was midfielder Brooke Lampe. Lampe finished with four goals and nine total points last season, including shooting a blistering 75 percent of her shots on goal.

Lampe was under the wing of senior defender Tori Phillips last season, and with her graduation, will now be playing a pivotal role in Hedlund’s formation this fall.

After a successful campaign with the Mean Green, Lampe knows what it will take for this team to keep moving forward.

“We had a standard set for us freshmen when we came in, and we need to keep that bar raised for the freshmen coming in,” Lampe said. “So now that we have done it, can we do it again?”

Lampe, like the rest of her teammates, has one goal in mind each season, and that is to get a ring. It has become almost customary, but in order to achieve this, Lampe understands working on fitness will be one of the things she looks to improve on from last year to this year, individually.

“One of our goals from the freshmen class is to get a ring each year,” Lampe said. “If our seniors did it, why can’t we? I can always get better, and one of my biggest things is getting into better shape. For helping out the team, I need to be able to last a couple more minutes.”

Defensively, the Mean Green were one of the best teams in the country last season. The team allowed just 18 goals in 22 matches for a goals against average of .789. In 11 of their 22 games, the defense held their opponent scoreless.

Freshman Logan Bruffett is one of the defenders who suffocated C-USA offenses last season and even added one goal of her own over the course of the season.

Playing with her fellow teammates has helped Bruffett grow from an incoming freshman into her sophomore season.

“Confidence on the field with the ball and [with] the other players is how I have grown over the year,” Bruffett said. “Not feeling like a new player and feeling more comfortable with the team has helped me grow a lot.”

After one season with the team and with the success they had on the field, Bruffett and her young teammates are hungry to make this one of the more successful classes in program history.

With the track record of this program, that is no easy feat, but they are ready to try.

“Taking every practice seriously helped us realize we are a part of something huge,” Bruffett said. “Now that we got a ring amd started a run of our own, we are hungry to get another one and another one.”

Featured image: North Texas freshman defender Logan Bruffett kicks the ball in a game against Indiana University on Sept. 10. Sara Carpenter

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Matthew Berger

Matthew Berger

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