North Texas Daily

Soccer team to play pivotal conference game

Soccer team to play pivotal conference game

October 17
23:04 2012

Ryne Gannoe / Senior Staff Writer

This one is for all the marbles. It’s a must-win game. For the playoffs, it’s a do or die situation.

These sports clichés apply to the Mean Green women’s soccer team as it clashes with the Sun Belt conference’s other unbeaten team, Middle Tennessee University (13-3-0, 8-0-0), at 7 p.m. tonight at the Mean Green Soccer Stadium.

With two games remaining in the final Sun Belt season for UNT (12-3-2, 7-0-1), this final home game will decide what team rests atop the conference standings. Besides deciding first place, the winner of this will help determine seeding for the Sun Belt championship tournament.

“We know we have to win,” head coach John Hedlund said. “The great thing is we put ourselves in this position. We have probably the best two teams playing each other Thursday night.”

After tying Florida International University 1-1 on Oct. 7, which put the team in second in the conference standings, Hedlund said the team did a great job staying in contention by winning its next two games. Now, Hedlund said he is glad the team’s fate will be decided at home.

The Mean Green hasn’t lost a home game against a conference opponent since 2008 when it lost to Denver, who is now a member of the Western Athletic Conference.

No current Sun Belt member has beaten UNT at home since a 2006 loss to Middle Tennessee.

While the Mean Green Soccer Stadium is a tough place for visitors to win, the Blue Raiders have the No. 2 scoring offense in all of NCAA Division-I soccer, averaging 3.19 goals a game.

The MTU offense is lead by senior forward Paige Goeglein. Goeglein is tied for seventh in total goals in the NCAA with 14, just two behind the national leader.

“We’ve heard their offense is pretty strong,” UNT junior defender Kelsey Hodges said. “We have to make sure we know where she is at all times. We can’t let her take shots and get close to the goal.”

Hodges said the team is aware of the pressure it has to play under, but she thinks it “hypes” the team up and forces them to focus more.

The game will start at 7 p.m. tonight at the Mean Green Soccer Stadium.

Quick facts: Side by side comparison of MTU vs UNT

?Both teams are tied for total points in conference play with 65. Goals are worth two points, and assists are worth one.

?During conference play, UNT has fired 195 shots, an average 24 shots a game and a total of 26 goals. While Middle Tennessee has a better total season offense overall, it is behind the Mean Green in conference play with 172 shots and 23 goals.

?Middle Tennessee has an edge in passing. They lead the Sun Belt in assists with 19, six more than UNT.

?While UNT boasts the best overall defense across the entire season, allowing less than one goal per game on average, both teams have allowed seven goals in eight conference games.

?In 16 contests, the Mean Green lead the series 9-5-2.

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