DENTON, Texas (10/02/08) The Mean Green soccer team returns to their friendly confines this weekend with a pair of games against teams from the Sunshine State.
On Friday evening at 7 p.m. North Texas welcomes in Florida Atlantic (1-6-1, 0-1-1), who are coming off of a 1-0 home loss against Middle Tennessee. Then on Sunday at 1 p.m., the Mean Green will look to extend their win streak to seven straight seasons over the Florida International Golden Panthers (0-8-1, 0-1-1).
North Texas (7-2, 1-1) head coach John Hedlund and his team is hoping to erase the disappointment of last weekend’s 3-2 road loss at Louisiana-Monroe in which his team outshot the opponent for the ninth straight game but was unable to capitalize on opportunities in front of the net.
“From the start of that game nothing went our way,” Hedlund said of the loss. “It was frustrating for me and the team. They (Monroe) shut out our entire offense. It’s (the offense) something we’re going to have to continue to address. We still don’t know where the goals are going to come from game to game.”
Most notably Kendall Juett, Kelli Lunsford and Brittany Cleveland were held scoreless in Louisiana. Those three have combined for eight of the team’s 19 goals this season and are just a few of the key contributors Hedlund feels might be feeling the pressure of delivering offensively. Both Juett and Lunsford have been held without a goal dating back to the Sept. 12 win against East Tennessee State University.
“We’re going to have to get them going, especially now that we’re into conference play,” Hedlund said. “A handful of players are pressing a bit right now. We’ve got to go at it a game at a time though. They can’t make up for all of their stats all in one game.”
A few positives from this past weekend were the play of midfielder’s Veronica Ayala and Julie Lackey. In the team’s 3-1 victory at Louisiana-Lafayette, Ayala scored her first two goals of the season and proved to be the game winner and clincher. Two days later Lackey also scored two goals, her firsts of her career, to help keep North Texas in the game against Louisiana-Monroe.
Starting this weekend the remaining schedule leans heavily in favor of the Mean Green as the regular season winds down towards the conference tournament. Seven of the last nine regular season contests will take place at the North Texas Soccer Field where the Mean Green is 5-1 this season and 21-3-1 the past three years. North Texas will also host the Sun Belt Tournament Nov. 5-8.
“It’s really set up for us to take advantage this season,” Hedlund said of the home stretch. “We need to take care of business here at home. Our most important goal is getting a high seed and playing our best soccer at the end of the year.”A special offer will be given to Mean Green fans for Sunday’s contest against FIU. Those who bring in their ticket stubs from Saturday’s home football game between North Texas and FIU will be admitted into the soccer game free of charge