MOBILE, Ala. - The North Texas soccer team (16-4-2, 9-1-1 in conference play) won the Sun Belt Conference championship tournament with a 1-0 win over FIU in the finals. The win marks the third SBC tournament championship, and it gives the Mean Green an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament field. The game was the final to be played by North Texas in the Sun Belt Conference, a league it has been a member of for 13 years.
A goal in the 63rd minute by Amber Haggerty off a Kelsey Hodges and Jackie Moreau assist was the difference in a defensive struggle between two future C-USA teams that have butted heads for years including a tie in the most recent matchup between them in Denton, Texas a month ago.
The goal was Haggerty's second of the tournament and eighth on the year. In addition to Haggerty's offensive output in the tournament, sophomore goalkeeper Jackie Kerestine recorded a blank sheet on the entire tournament for the second straight year by not allowing a single goal in any of the rounds. Keresine, a preseason All-Sun Belt team selection and SBC defensive player of the week, was under heavy fire from the FIU offense in the final 20 minutes, and her three saves allowed North Texas to keep its season alive and strong.
"First of all I want to congratulate FIU on a great year," head coach John Hedlund said. "Second, I'm so proud of my team, to win both titles and book a trip to the NCAA's has made this simply a magical year."
The Mean Green cleared FAU, WKU and FIU in order to win the tournament, teams that North Texas went a combined 1-1-1 against during the regular season.