2011 Team Wins Regular-Season Title After Five-Year Drought
Mean Green Beats Denver One Final Time
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 looking back at all nine conference championships. This week, we look at the 2011 regular-season championship team.
Following two successful seasons (2004 and 2005) in which the Mean Green soccer program took home four conference titles, North Texas experienced a five-year trophy drought. Despite this dry spell, the Mean Green was still winning. In that five-year span, head coach John Hedlund's teams posted three 15-win seasons and two 12-win campaigns.
And, the Mean Green came close numerous times. In 2006, North Texas lost its final two regular-season games, falling out of contention for the regular-season title. A 3-2 loss to Middle Tennessee snapped a 23-game home winning streak for the Mean Green. North Texas also fell to Denver, a team that went undefeated in conference play.
In 2007, North Texas lost its final five games of the regular season. Despite this atypical behavior, the Mean Green bounced back in the conference tournament, falling in the championship game to Denver. The five-game losing streak was and still is the longest in school history.
In 2008, 2009 and 2010, North Texas lost the final game of the regular season to Denver. The Mean Green capped its drought in 2010 when it bowed out of the conference tournament in the first round. It is the only time in school history that North Texas has lost in the opening round of the conference tournament.
The 2011 squad was heavy with experience. Nine of the 11 starters returned from the 2010 team. One of the top goalkeepers (Mandy Hall) in school history had graduated, but there was a buzz about freshman Jackie Kerestine. In front of her would be one of the best defensive units in school history (Kara Brooks, Shannon Gorrie, Hannah Crawford and Kelsey Hodges).
Junior Michelle Young would pace the offense. She would go on to finish in the top five for scoring in Mean Green school history.
The 2011 team did not disappoint. North Texas went 8-1-1 in conference play, posting six shutouts. The only blemishes came with a 1-0 road loss to FIU and a 1-1 tie with Arkansas State. It all came down to the final game with Denver, yet again.
For the first time since the 2005 championship season, North Texas defeated Denver to win the regular-season title. Hodges had the winning goal in the fifth minute with a free kick from beyond the midfield line.
"That was a special memory for me because it was the last time we played Denver,” Hedlund said about the game. "A lot was at stake. Denver had to win or tie that game to win the regular-season title. We had to win the game. We scored the early goal. Kelsey on a direct kick. Defensively, we played unbelievable.
"That was one of Denver’s strongest teams. They were loaded up front with talented players. Our defense shut them down.
They have had their way with us more than we had their way with them. The Denver coach gave me a big hug and said congratulations. I thought was pretty classy of him."
The 2011 team lost in heart-break fashion in the semifinals of the conference tournament, falling in penalty kicks on the fifth shot.
"The 2011 team was a really good team," Hedlund said. "They could have won it all."