North Texas Daily

Soccer’s Holden looks to bounce back from sophomore slump

Soccer’s Holden looks to bounce back from sophomore slump

Soccer’s Holden looks to bounce back from sophomore slump
September 09
14:41 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

If scoring a hat trick in her first career game and going on to win Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2013 were any indication, the transition to college soccer did not faze junior forward Rachel Holden.

Expectations skyrocketed for Holden’s sophomore campaign. After finishing her first season with 12 goals, Holden was named the preseason offensive player of the year by C-USA coaches.

But Holden went on to score just four goals in her second season despite playing in all 22 games.

“Going from freshman to sophomore year, I didn’t want that drop off I had,” Holden said. “I always feel like I could do more. I’m never content with where I am.”

Despite the drop off in production, Holden was named to the C-USA first team for the second year in a row. And through just six games this season, Holden has already tied her 2014 goals total with four, the most of any player on the team.

09-09-15-Dylan-RachelHolden1

Rachel Holden poses before practice on Sept. 8. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

Head coach John Hedlund said once Holden established herself as a threat, she saw a lot more double teams from opponents and did not always get the benefit of the doubt from officials.

“Any team that gets a scouting report on us, the first player they name is [Holden], and how you’re going to defend her and how you’re going to frustrate her,” Hedlund said. “That’s just the reputation she’s built.”

Holden’s sophomore struggles were eerily similar to those of senior midfielder Karla Pineda.

Hedlund used Pineda at a lot of different positions her second season, something Hedlund also did with Holden. Once she was used exclusively as a midfielder, Pineda said she found her comfort zone.

The senior followed up on her three goal, seven assist sophomore slump with 11 goals and ten assists the following year. Pineda said she expects a similar turnaround from Holden this season and remains confident in the forward’s natural ability.

“If [Holden] is one-on-one, I’m pretty sure she’s going to score,” Pineda said. “She knows how to move away from the ball and make runs. It helps me, because I’m usually the one who’s giving her the ball.”

Hedlund said Holden’s desire for the ball and physicality is what makes her such a special talent.
“[Holden’s] work rate is through the roof,” Hedlund said. “You’re not going to find a kid that works harder than her.”

Hedlund said in order for the Mean Green to achieve its goal of winning C-USA and advancing to the NCAA tournament, Holden needs to score double-digit goals and be close to or better than what she was her freshman season.

Fortunately for him and the Mean Green, Holden has embraced that responsibility.

“I always have high expectations for myself, and I never really drop them,” Holden said. “If I don’t meet those expectations, it’s a disappointment, but I have to move on.”

Featured Image: Rachel Holden jumps during drills at a North Texas soccer practice. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

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