Mean Green Soccer In Great Position With Tough Opponents Ahead
North Texas Plays At Oregon State, Oregon This Weekend
North Texas vs. Oregon State
Friday, Sept. 2
7 p.m. l Corvallis, Oregon
Live Stats l Game Notes
North Texas vs. Oregon
Sunday, Sept. 4
3 p.m. l Eugene, Oregon
Live Stats l Pac-12 networks (regional broadcast)
DENTON - Every season, the North Texas coaching staff tries to plan a special trip for the team. A trip that includes quality opponents and a new location for the players to explore. In 2016, the plan worked out perfectly.
Head coach John Hedlund owed Oregon State a return game after the Beavers came to Denton in 2014. He was able to pick up Oregon in the same weekend so the Mean Green is headed to the state of the Oregon this week to face the Beavers and the Ducks from the Pac-12 Conference.
"It's special for the seniors to go on a nice trip," said Hedlund. "We try to play an opponent that is really going to help our RPI. This weekend, these two teams are really quality opponents from the Pac-12 so if we can get some good results it will help our RPI down the road."
The Mean Green is in an ideal situation to improve its RPI and break into the Top 25 for the first time in school history. North Texas received 19 votes in this past week's NSCAA national poll. Over their next five games, North Texas will play four schools from the Power Five conferences, including No. 17 Arkansas who defeated a then-No. 2 Duke to move into the national rankings.
"I couldn't have asked for a better position right now," said Hedlund. "We have moved up to third in the region over several Big 12 schools and haven't lost a game. When I saw how many people voted for us in the national poll, I thought that was pretty awesome. We are very close to cracking the top 25. If we could get some good results this weekend and over the next month, we should be able to do it."
Hedlund is pushing his team to improve every week. He wants them to work out the kinks, as he says, so the team can be playing at high level once conference play starts. The Mean Green play at Rice on September 18 to start play in Conference USA.
"It's all in front of us," said Hedlund. "I like the fact, that even though we haven't played our best soccer at times, we are finding ways to win. We have only given up two goals in four games. There are a lot of positives, but at the same time, I know we need to improve each week."
Last year's team set a team record for shutouts. Hedlund wants this year's team to play much better defense.
"Last year, we always relied on our defense, and we need to have that same mindset," said Hedlund.
The Mean Green has a lot of talent up with front with seniors Rachel Holden and Marchelle Davis and sophomore Taylor Torres. Those three have combined for seven of the team's 12 goals. They have been aided by Anna Flobeck and Tori Phillips, who are both playing new positions in the midfield. The duo have combined for 12 points in four games.
And when the starters have stumbled, the team's depth has helped out. The Mean Green found themselves in a hole last weekend when Abilene Christian scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the game. Lauryn Bruffett came off the bench to score, and then Flobeck and Davis tallied scores to complete the comeback.
"I really wasn't that worried," said Hedlund. "It was just us going out there and being flat. We had a couple defensive breakdowns that we fixed. What I liked is that I pulled a lot of my starters, and my reserves came in and got us back in the game. They have to understand that when adversity hits, are you going to fight through it or back off? I like the fact that they didn't give up, they found ways to score."
The Mean Green will need to find ways to score this weekend against Oregon State and Oregon. NT will face the Beavers on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. in Corvallis, Ore., and then plays the Ducks in Eugene, Ore., on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m.