Mean Green Advance To C-USA Championship
North Texas Beats FAU 2-0
BOCA RATON, Fla -- For the fourth time in the last five years, the Mean Green soccer team has reached the Conference USA tournament championship game.
North Texas defeated the host Florida Atlantic Owls Friday afternoon 2-0 to advance to the tournament's final round. It's the 12th time the program has reached a conference tournament championship game in its 23-year history.
The Mean Green, who are the two-seed in the tournament, will play the bottom seed, Charlotte 49ers, in the championship game on Sunday at 10AM. The match will be streamed live on ESPN3.
North Texas is attempting to win its 13th conference title --fifth conference tournament title.
"I knew this was going to be a battle to the very end," said head coach John Hedlund. "Aaliyah gave us the cushion we were looking for and the number one defense in the conference held strong to get the shutout. We're excited to get back to the finals."
The win for North Texas is revenge as the Owls upset the Mean Green last season in the conference tournament in the semifinals.
Friday's match was a game that had little flow, especially in the second half, but the Mean Green did exactly what it needed to do to beat FAU.
They scored early and their top-notch defense did the rest by allowing few offensive chances -- only three shots on goal.
"I'd say there was a little bit of revenge on our minds but our biggest thing was to no underestimate them," said senior captain Cat Sebazco. "I'm beyond excited and am so proud of this team. This team has come together and played for each other these last games has made me a very proud senior."
North Texas scored in the 12th minute on a goal by freshman Ariel Diaz and then put the Owls away on a 85th minute goal by junior Aaliyah Nolan. It was both Diaz and Nolan's seventh goal of the year.
"Our game plan was to play our game," Sebazco said. "Someitmes we get taken out of our style."
North Texas' opponent on Sunday, Charlotte, began the conference tournament with a 1-0 upset win over the top-seed Rice Owls. Friday they defeated fourth seeded Louisiana Tech to reach the finals.
Charlotte is the defending conference tournament champions and features Martha Thomas who earlier this week was named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year for a second-straight season.
On Oct. 19th North Texas beat the 49ers in Charlotte 2-1.
It was one of the Mean Green's closest matches of the year.
"We're playing for something bigger than ourselves and when everyone has that same mindset it creates a very positive energy throughout our team which to me is a big factor to our success," Sebazco said. "I'd say we're not only executing that, but we're mastering it."