North Texas Daily

Soccer seniors look to finish careers on a high note

Soccer seniors look to finish careers on a high note

Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Soccer seniors look to finish careers on a high note
October 25
12:40 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

Every NCAA athlete wants to have a positive impact on their team, but leaving a legacy is usually saved for the all-time greats.

When it comes to Mean Green soccer, some of its best players in history might be in uniform right now.

The 2015 senior class has experienced success since they first arrived, making one NCAA tournament appearance and winning two regular season conference tournaments. This year, the seniors have led North Texas to a 15-2-1 record, good for the second best overall record in Conference USA.

“They’ve become special players, unique players. Players that have really made their mark here. Players that will be in the hall of fame,” head coach John Hedlund said. “For me, it’s an honor to coach players at that magnitude.”

Headlining the senior class are goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine and midfielder Karla Pineda, who have each made sure to leave their mark in the North Texas record books. Pineda has cracked the top ten in career points (85) and game-winning goals (12) and holds the second most assists in school history (31). Kerestine holds all-time school records in nearly every goalkeeping category, including saves, wins and shutouts.

With their leadership and experience, the seniors have created a unique chemistry. Seven of the team’s eight seniors have been at North Texas for their entire career, something Hedlund said gives the Mean Green an added advantage on the field.

“They know their habits, strengths, weaknesses,” Hedlund said. “Anytime you can get a team together for several years, it’s huge. Especially when you’re trying to win titles.”

Senior forward Amber Haggerty said she will always be there for her teammates after all the experiences they’ve had over the years.

“We’ve won championships together, we’ve traveled together, we’ve had good times and bad times,” Haggerty said. “It really does make a difference to be with the people you’ve grown with.”

From having classes together to going out to Chipotle with teammates, the senior class has become extremely close off the field. Haggerty said having 30 friends to hang out with is what she will miss the most once she graduates.

“I love everybody. I can’t say I’d rather do anything with only one person,” Haggerty said. “I like when everybody’s together. It makes me feel united with the team.”
When Hedlund originally put the 2015 class together, he was looking for versatile players that could fit into a variety of different playing styles. Now that the class has matured, Hedlund said it’s hard to say the class isn’t the best he’s ever had.

“You think you can go out and get kids that can do all that, but they’ve been doing it for years,” Hedlund said. “The bottom line is they know how to win. The bigger the game, the better they play.”

For Mean Green newcomers, seniors provide leadership with extensive communication. Freshman defender Carissa Sanders said Kerestine and senior defender Molly Grisham do a great job holding down the back line during game action, telling less experienced players when to step for a ball and always making sure to compliment someone on a good play.

Additionally, Sanders said the seniors helped make the transition to college much smoother, helping freshmen learn how to manage their time and keeping them up to date with the latest practice schedules.

“Lindsey [Hulstein] always sends out a text letting us know when we need to be here, what we’re doing that day,” Sanders said. “She always informs us on what’s going on.”

North Texas has a history of replacing great seniors with more talent each year, but Sanders and Hedlund each said this senior class will be particularly tough to replace. In Hedlund’s 20 years as the North Texas head coach, the team has never had a losing season.

“I am worried about next year, I’m not going to lie,” Sanders said. “They’re a very strong class that we’re going to miss. It is going to be hard, but [Hedlund] knows what he’s doing.”

While the future of Mean Green soccer is yet to be determined, the senior class still has over a month to achieve its hopes of taking North Texas farther than it has ever gone before.

“When it’s all said and done, this could be a really special team,” Hedlund said. “We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Featured Image: File Photo

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