North Texas Daily

Soccer to begin conference play

Soccer to begin conference play

September 23
21:55 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

With nonconference play in the books, the Mean Green soccer team will now turn their attention to their Conference USA rivals for the remainder of the 2014 season. Their conference opener will be a home game this Friday against Louisiana Tech University at 7:00 p.m.

North Texas finished with a 6-3 record in their nonconference schedule, which is the same as last season. Unlike last season, however, the Mean Green stumbled to the finish line by losing three of their last four games, including two last-second heartbreakers to Oklahoma University and Gonzaga University.

Despite an unsettling finish to their nonconference schedule, head coach John Hedlund said the team performed better than their record indicates over the previous nine games.

“We’ve outplayed everyone on our schedule so far,” Hedlund said. “We’ve out-shot every team on our schedule. We could be sitting at 9-0 right now, but we’re not. We’re 6-3, but against a pretty strong nonconference schedule.”

Junior midfielder Lindsey Hulstein said she is happy with the Mean Green’s performance thus far, but said that the real season begins on Friday.

“I think if you would have told me going into the season that we’d be 6-3 after nonconference, I would have been really pleased with that,” Hulstein said. “Even though we lost our last two games, we understand that conference play is what really matters.”

The conference does present a handful of challenges for the Mean Green, including a La. Tech squad that has only lost one game, but junior goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine has big expectations for the team.

“My goal personally is to go undefeated,” Kerestine said. “Will that happen? I do not know. But I want to and my full expectation is that we do everything in our power to make it to NCAA, whether that’s winning the [conference] tournament or getting an at-large bid.”

Kerestine said that she is particularly looking forward to facing Western Kentucky University to close out the season.

“It’s always kind of a blood bath. It’s a great rivalry,” Kerestine said. “We both don’t like each other very much, and we both want to win that game.”

The Mean Green and Hilltoppers were in the Sun Belt conference together for three years prior to last season. The former rivalry will be rekindled in 2014 thanks to the Western Kentucky’s move to C-USA, and Kerestine said that it’s not unusual for tempers to flare in this matchup.

“From the tournaments and conference play, we’ve always butted heads,” Kerestine said. “It’s very physical, and there are a lot of attitudes. We all feed off of each other’s attitudes.”

Last season, the Mean Green was shut out by Colorado College 3-0 in the C-USA championship game. This year, Colorado College is no longer in the conference, but the Mean Green feel like they have a target on their back because they were the runner up.

“I think we take every game seriously, because it is a really good conference,” Hulstein said. “Colorado College left, so we’re the only team in the conference right now that made it to the championship last year. So that really gives us a target on our back.”

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