Short-Handed Offense Vaults NT Soccer Into C-USA Semis
No Holden Or Ibewuike, But NT Offense Scores Four To Top FIU
HOUSTON - No Rachel Holden. No Vanessa Ibewuike. No problem. The rest of the North Texas soccer lineup had plenty of ammo to take down FIU, 4-1, in quarterfinal action at the Conference USA Tournament.
Holden, the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year, and Ibewuike, a third-team All-C-USA representative, combined to score 17 regular-season goals for the Mean Green (13-6-1), but both were forced to sit in the rematch of last year’s Sun Belt Tournament final due to cards.
The rest of the Mean Green roster picked up the slack, outshooting the Golden Panthers (7-12) 21-10, including an 8-3 edge in shots on target.
“Tonight was about finishing our chances against an opponent we have a lot of respect for and know so well,” said North Texas head coach John Hedlund. “Amber Haggerty, Karla Pineda, Lynda Hercules and Leah Cox stepped up big for us offensively. We’re all excited about playing Friday night in the semifinals and being at full strength.”
Hercules opened the scoring with a blast from 30-yards out and Kelsey Hodges added a penalty kick goal 15 minutes later to pad the NT lead. FIU was held without a shot for the first 34:44, but rallied in the second half after a penalty shot of their own.
Pineda had the answer to quiet the Golden Panthers momentum with a bending free kick from 25-yards, and Amber Haggerty put the nail in the coffin with rip in the 82nd minute.
Next up for North Texas
• West No. 2 seed North Texas moves on to Friday’s C-USA Tournament semifinals, and will take on [E1] Charlotte at 7 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
• This marks the 13th time in 14 opportunities that North Texas has advanced to at least the semifinals of its conference tournament. NT made nine Sun Belt Tournament finals, winning in 2004, 2005 and 2012.
• The penalty shot goal for FIU in the 58th minute was the first goal allowed by NT in conference tournament play since 2010 – a span of five games.
• Kelsey Hodges scored her fifth penalty kick goal of the year, which breaks the five-year old school record for makes in a season. Carrie Kveton (2000) and Kelli Lunsford (2008) previously held the record.
• FIU and North Texas last met in the 2012 Sun Belt Tournament final. A goal from Amber Haggerty helped NT win that game and move on to the NCAA Tournament.