Four Conference Titles In Two Years
The 2005 Team Repeated As Conference Tournament Champions
With the majority of its team coming back after a record-breaking season in 2014, the North Texas soccer program is poised to make a run for its 10th conference championship in school history.
Every Thursday during the summer, MeanGreenSports.com is going look back at all nine conference championships. This week, we look at the second of two conference championships both won in 2005.
One of the toughest things to accomplish in sports is to win back-to-back championships. It's tough to repeat, but that is just what Mean Green soccer did in 2004 and 2005. North Texas won back-to-back regular-season titles and conference tournament titles. Four conference championships in two years.
"Those two teams were probably two of my hardest-working teams that had tremendous chemistry," said North Texas head coach John Hedlund. "That is what I remember about them. It's hard to go back-to-back."
Despite losing its final regular-season conference game to Middle Tennessee, the 2005 Mean Green squad still had the upper hand going into the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed.
The conference tournament was not a walk in the park for the Mean Green, but it also did not have to face Denver, its arch rival. The No. 8 seed Louisiana-Lafayette gave the Mean Green another good game in the quarterfinals.
The Ragin' Cajuns put North Texas in an unfamiliar position, having to come from behind. ULL took an early lead, 1-0, with a goal in the fifth minute, but the Mean Green responded with two goals (Julie Radford and Dani Slavonic) before half.
Heather Hutyra added the Mean Green's third goal, but the North Texas defense had to clamp down after ULL scored a second goal. North Texas held on to advance the semifinals against WKU, who provided the Mean Green with another close game.
Julie Radford scored her second goal in as many games to put North Texas ahead, 1-0, in the second half of the semifinals. Radford knocked in a loose ball after a free kick by North Texas. WKU tied the game up, 1-1, but Hutyra propelled the top seed into the championship game with the gamewinner in the 87th minute.
Goalkeeper Kandice Ellis recorded her seventh shutout of the season in the 2-0 win against South Alabama in the championship game. Hutyra gave North Texas a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute, and Radford sealed the win with her third game of the tournament.
"I'm just so proud of the way the girls played throughout this tournament and throughout the entire year," said Hedlund after the game. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make it back to the NCAA Tournament and the girls just never gave up and came through."
Hutyra, Radford, Ellis and Slavonic were named to the all-tournament team for North Texas. Hutyra was named the most valuable player of the tournament with seven points in the tournament.
North Texas tied a school record with 16th wins, tying the mark set in 2004. With the win, North Texas received its second straight automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Despite beating SMU earlier in the season, the Mean Green could not do it a second time as the Mustangs defeated North Texas, 3-0, in the opening round of the tournament.
The Mean Green racked up the end-of-year awards after taking both conference titles. The trio of Heather Hutyra, Kelli Lunsford, and head coach John Hedlund were honored by the Sun Belt Conference by being named the Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and Coach of the Year.
Hutyra was named the Player of the Year after recording a league-high 17 goals and 40 points. Hutyra had two hat tricks and was ranked seventh in the nation in goals, goals per game, and ninth in points per game.
Lunsford was named the Freshman of the Year after scoring seven points, dishing out seven assists, and compiling 21 points.
Joining Hutyra and Lunsford on the first-team all conference were Angela Hawkins and goalkeeper Kandice Ellis.
Nine Conference Championships
2001 Regular-Season Title
2004 Regular-Season Title
2004 Conference Tournament Title
2005 Regular-Season Title