North Texas Daily

Soccer team advances to C-USA final with win over MTSU

Soccer team advances to C-USA final with win over MTSU

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

Soccer team advances to C-USA final with win over MTSU
November 06
20:57 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

The Mean Green soccer team advanced to the Conference-USA tournament finals Friday with a 1-0 semifinal win over No. 5 seed Middle Tennessee State University (10-5-5).

Fueled by a first half goal from junior forward Rachel Holden, North Texas (18-3-1) is now one win away from earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.

“It helped us out to get an early goal,” Holden said. “Putting one in early really set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Each team had multiple scoring opportunities in the first 15 minutes. North Texas responded to an early physical attack from the Blue Raiders with three shots in a five minute stretch, two of which missed high above the net.

But the Mean Green capitalized on its best first half opportunity in the 27th minute, as Holden gathered a rebound from a blocked shot and fired it into the top right corner of the net for the game’s first score. The goal was Holden’s team-leading 12th of the season, giving North Texas an early 1-0 lead against opposing goalkeeper and C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Kelsey Brauwer.

“If she’s anything like the player I am, she gains momentum with time,” senior goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine said. “It was a nice relief to get an early [goal] so we could try and hold on.”

North Texas remained in control the remainder of the half, heading into the intermission with an 8-4 shot advantage after being out-shot 16-8 in the first round on Wednesday. However, lightning in the Miami area caused a delay of over 30 minutes before the beginning of the second half.

“I think it helped us in a way. We were really pumped to get back out there,” Holden said. “We had all the motivation to win this game.”

The Mean Green back line saw increased action early in the second half. Middle Tennessee put up four shots and four corner kicks from the start of the period to the 70th minute but failed to score. Kerestine finished the game with four saves, breaking her previous single-season school record with her 14th shutout of the year.

Despite a chippy conclusion that featured a yellow card from senior midfielder Karla Pineda and three cards from the Blue Raiders, North Texas held on to its lead and earned the victory, only allowing two shot attempts in the final 20 minutes.

The Mean Green now finds itself playing for the C-USA tournament championship for the third year in a row, but look to have a different result this time around.

“We had an opportunity to do it last year, but we didn’t take care of business,” Kerestine said. “It’s great to be back in that spot.”

North Texas will face  No. 2 seed Marshall University in the championship final on Sunday at 10 a.m CST. They played to a 0-0 draw in double overtime in their first meeting this year, which was at Marshall.

Featured Image: File Photo Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor

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