North Texas prepares to embark on its 17th season of women's soccer, and is attempting to post its 17th straight winning season, all under head coach John Hedlund. Only six programs in the nation, including perennial powers North Carolina, Portland, Notre Dame and Stanford, have had more consecutive winning seasons. Only Anson Dorrance (North Carolina, 29 years) and John Daly (William and Mary, 24 years) have had more consecutive winning seasons at one school than Hedlund.
Hedlund has posted a history of winning at North Texas, with a combined total of five regular season and conference tournament championships. He ranks ninth in the nation among active coaches who have spent their career at one school in winning percentage. Hedlund ranks 18th among all active coaches in winning percentage, with a winning percentage of 70%, and a winning percentage of 84% at home.
Hedlund returns a veteran team, which includes nine of the eleven starters from a 2010 squad that finished third in the Sun Belt, which put together an eight-game unbeaten streak before falling to No. 22 Denver to finish the regular season. Despite the loss of goalkeeper Mandy Hall, North Texas' career leader in goals against average, saves and shutouts, the Mean Green look to have good hands in net with the addition of freshman Jackie Kerestine. Kerestine, the tallest soccer player in the Sun Belt Conference, comes to North Texas from Colleyville Heritage High School, the same school that produced Mandy Hall. Kerestine, who like Hall was a Fort Worth Star Telegram Super Team selection in high school, led Heritage through 19 straight shutouts, which spanned from January until overtime of the state championship game.
Returning for the Mean Green is the senior defensive core of Kara Brooks, Shannon Gorrie, and Hannah Crawford, the group of which was nearly impenetrable when on the field together in 2010. North Texas ranked 35th in Division I in Goals Against Average during 2010, a large part of which was bolstered by Hannah Crawford's 0.63 mark during the 17 games she participated in. In the 17 games that all three of Brooks, Crawford and Gorrie started, North Texas posted a sparkling GAA of 0.57, which would have ranked 12th in Division I.
Returning in the midfield is junior Ellen Scarfone, a 2010 All-Sun Belt selection. Scarfone ranked 38th in Division I in assists per game, and finished the season ranked 6th on North Texas' single season assists list with nine, to go with her seven goals. Scarfone is also the Mean Green's set-piece specialist, going 3-for-3 on penalty kicks and taking most of North Texas' corners in 2010. Senior Julie Lackey, who was a Sun Belt Player of the Week selection last year, returns to the midfield, a year after finishing the season with eight goals.
Up front, the Mean Green are led by junior Michelle Young, who had eight goals and five assists in 2010, both second-best on the squad. Young was busy in the summer, leading FC Dallas' WPSL squad with three goals in six games, taking on some of the best women's soccer players in the region. Young is currently tied for 9th on North Texas' career list with seven game-winning goals, she scored three game-winners last year.
The Mean Green begin the regular season on August 21 as they host Oral Roberts at the Mean Green Soccer Complex at 1 p.m. The Mean Green have a favorable home schedule this year, with strong programs such as SMU, Western Kentucky, defending Sun Belt Champions Middle Tennessee, and Denver visiting the Mean Green Soccer Complex.