DENTON, Texas- Kelsey Hodges scored on a free kick from beyond midfield to give North Texas a 1-0 win over Denver, and clinch the 2011 Sun Belt Regular Season Title. The title is North Texas' fourth regular season title in the Sun Belt.
"I am so proud of my girls, they fought like warriors tonight against an outstanding Denver team," said North Texas head coach John Hedlund. "When you can beat a team like Denver, and hold their offense scoreless, you deserve to be conference champs."
"We preached a defense-first mentality all year, and that was the difference in this game and in winning the regular season title." Hedlund added. "We got a little extra motivation when the Sun Belt preseason poll came out and we were picked fourth, that was all the bulletin board material we needed to win the programs sixth overall title."
North Texas (13-4-2, 8-1-1 Sun Belt) enters the Sun Belt Tournament as the top seed, while Denver (15-4-0, 9-2-0 Sun Belt) enters as the three seed.
Hodges scored in the 5th minute, for her seventh goal of the season, on a free kick from beyond midfield. Hodges has now scored in two straight games, despite playing as the defensive anchor.
Jackie Kerestine held the Pioneer offense scoreless all night by making five stops in net. She has seven shutouts on the season, which is tied for fourth at North Texas. She finishes the league season with a 0.39 goals against average in league play, which leads the Sun Belt. Kerestine did not allow more than one goal in any Sun Belt game this year.
North Texas finished its season undefeated at home for the first time since 2005, and the first time in the Mean Green Soccer Complex. North Texas is unbeaten in its last 14 home games and has won 14 straight Sun Belt home games.
North Texas out-shot Denver 14-11.
The Mean Green begin the Sun Belt Tournament on Wednesday, November 2, facing off against the No. 8 seed, Troy.
GAME NOTES: Seniors Carly McDowell, Nikki Crocco, Shannon Gorrie, Hannah Crawford, Julie Lackey and Kelsey Perlman all started in their last home game … North Texas has not given up a home goal since Oct. 7 … When leading at the half, North Texas is 8-0-1 this season … All told, North Texas has won the Sun Belt regular season or conference tournament a grand total of six times … North Texas won the conference tournament and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament the last two times it won the regular season title … Soccer is the first North Texas program to win the Sun Belt since Tennis in Spring of 2010