North Texas Daily

Soccer preparing for fall season

Soccer preparing for fall season

March 21
19:28 2013

William A. Darnell / Staff Writer

The Sun Belt Conference Champion Mean Green soccer team is spending its offseason making tactical adjustments, honing invaluable chemistry and running toward its conditioning goals.

The Mean Green will play three exhibition matches in the next month. The team will take on a Canadian amateur squad Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Baylor University on Saturday and Southern Methodist University on April 20.

Head coach John Hedlund said the team is tinkering with new systems during the offseason, partly due to the impending graduation of last season’s leading scorer, forward Michelle Young. Hedlund said a switch could be made from the modified 4-4-2 style that was so successful last season to a 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3.

Next season, like all UNT sports teams, the Mean Green soccer team will make the move to Conference USA – a move that Hedlund is excited about.

“It gives us an opportunity to play rivalry games against Tulsa, Rice and UTEP – teams that we normally wouldn’t have on our schedule,” Hedlund said.

Conference USA normally sends two to three teams to the NCAA tournament every season – a stark difference to the Sun Belt, which only sends one, Hedlund said.

The Mean Green only conceded 20 goals last season, and all four starters will return in the fall, including the anchor of the defense, junior center back and captain Kelsey Hodges.

“I think we will be as good, if not better,” Hedlund said. “Everybody’s back, including our goalkeepers. We should be stronger.”

The continuity will not only help the defense maintain its staunch record, but will also help involve younger members of the team.

“With the four of us being here in the offseason, we definitely get better chemistry going into the summer and fall,” Hodges said. “Especially for the freshman – it gets them back into the swing of things and more used our atmosphere.”

Although she already finished second on the team in goals and first in assists with seven each last season, freshman midfielder Karla Pineda said she is hoping the offseason practices will help her build on that success.

The team is practicing two times a week in the offseason – on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays being focused on weight training and conditioning.

“It definitely helps,” Pineda said. “I was in really bad shape, but this is helping me a lot and it’s going to prepare me for next season.”

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