North Texas Daily

Soccer team tops MTSU 2-1 in physical affair

Soccer team tops MTSU 2-1 in physical affair

Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Soccer team tops MTSU 2-1 in physical affair
October 17
19:00 2015

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@TorieMosley

The Mean Green faithful packed the stands on a chilly and windy Friday night to see Conference USA’s first place North Texas team bring its four-game winning streak to Denton against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (8-5-1, 4-2).

North Texas grabbed a 2-1 victory over its conference opponent in a foul-riddled game in front of a roaring home crowd.

“That’s our trademark here,” head coach John Hedlund said. “A lot of our success is winning all of our games at home. The crowd is always huge for us.”

Defending its undefeated conference record, North Texas (13-2-1, 5-0-1) kept up the tempo in the first half with the Blue Raiders with 17 shots on goal and two scores in the first 45 minutes. Senior defender Molly Grisham scored the game’s first goal in the 12th minute for the Mean Green, her second on the season.

The quick score didn’t faze the Blue Raiders’ attack, adding 13 first half shots on goal of their own to keep redshirt senior goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine on her toes.

“[Middle Tennessee] was tough, but it kind of works to our advantage,” Kerestine said. “In a big game like this, [fouls] let us regroup and get into position.”

North Texas fought back by extending its lead in the 28th minute with junior forward Rachel Holden’s eighth goal on the year, which was assisted by junior midfielder Alexsis Cable in a scramble for the ball in front of the goal.

“At first I didn’t know it was mine because they gave [the goal] to someone else,” Holden said. “After I figured out it was mine, it felt really good. It always feels good to score.”

The Mean Green controlled the game most of the first half until the visiting team scored its first goal just before halftime in the 44th minute to make it 2-1 North Texas at the half.

In a highly physical game, the Blue Raiders led North Texas in fouls throughout the contest, finishing with more than double the Mean Green’s foul total at 13 to the home team’s six.

The tense competition boiled over into the second half. Both teams traded several fouls before Holden received a yellow card in the 51st sixth minute.

“Yellow cards really aren’t a new thing for me,” Holden said. “It gets physical when [games] are down to the wire so I’d rather be aggressive than not.”

In the Blue Raiders’ closest attempt to tie the score near the end of the game, Kerestine fell defending a shot attempt in the 81st minute. As a result, the goal was left wide open, but senior defender Tess Graham rushed to kick the ball out of play for North Texas just before Middle Tennessee took advantage of the open net.

Kerestine had her work cut out for her with 10 saves on the day, her second highest total in a game this season. Hedlund said he knows Kerestine and the Mean Green will have a tough schedule ahead of them as the top team in Conference USA.

“Everybody circles us as their big game,” Hedlund said. “Our players feed into that. It gives them more energy to get out there, make plays and get a win.”

The victory makes six in a row at home for North Texas. Its next challenge comes Sunday against University of Alabama at Birmingham at 1:00 p.m.

Featured Image: File Photo

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