Cat Sebazco Has Gotten Her Groove Back, Scoring Goals For Mean Green Soccer
The Junior Forward Faced Setback After Setback
North Texas vs. UTEP
Friday, Oct. 7
8 p.m. l El Paso, TX
Webstream l Live Stats l Game Notes
North Texas vs. UTSA
Sunday, Oct. 9
1 p.m. l San Antonio, TX
DENTON - Cat Sebazco has gotten her groove back.
The North Texas junior forward, who has battled injuries and sickness the last two and half years, is finally healthy and a contributing member of the Mean Green soccer team.
After setback after setback and struggling for playing time her first two years, Sebazco has finally emerged as a spark off the bench for the Mean Green this season, who currently lead Conference USA with a 3-0 record and face tough road games this weekend against UTEP and University of Texas at San Antonio.
“I finally have found my niche on the team,” Sebazco said. “I’m on the team and now I’m establishing my importance on the team. That’s a nice feeling.”
She scored the game-winning goal in a key conference game against Western Kentucky last weekend, swooping into the box and knocking the ball into the net off a shot that ricocheted off the post.
“I could have sworn that my heart was going to jump out of my chest,” Sebazco said. “I was so excited about it. I watched the highlights over and over of my celebration. I was just skipping around. I’ll remember that feeling the rest of my life. Knowing the adversity that I have faced my first two years here and the setbacks I have had. I worked for that goal for two years and it was one of my best moments here.”
It has been a long time coming for the Texan from nearby Keller. There has always been a lot of potential and promise with Sebazco, who is solid technically and possesses a good soccer brain. She has had productive preseason camps and spring seasons but would then take a step back with an injury or a sickness in the fall.
It started her freshman year. She had a good preseason, showing confidence and a good shot even among a crowded field of forwards such as Rachel Holden, Marchelle Davis and Amber Haggerty.
Sebazco saw significant time as a freshman on an experienced conference championship team, coming off the bench in 12 games. She played 34 minutes against Oregon State and 38 minutes against Southern Miss, but did not see the field after October 5.
“I did really well the first half of the season,” Sebazco said. “About halfway through the season, I got sick. I got strep throat three times in two weeks of each other. I found afterwards that I have mono. That was a setback for me.
“John (Hedlund) wants to take his healthiest and strongest players, and at that time I wasn’t,” Sebazco said. “I had to fight that adversity.”
She recovered and played well during the spring of her freshman year. She had a good meeting with Hedlund and was looking forward to her sophomore year.
For the second straight year, Sebazco started preseason strong, until she turned her ankle at the end of camp and was out for over a month with a sprained ankle. She played only one game her sophomore year. Again, she knew that Hedlund was only going to play his healthiest players, and she knew she wasn’t there at that point.
She fought through the mental and physical hardships of not being able to play, recovered again and was ready for her second spring season when the coaching staff threw her a twist.
“I remember at practice, John told me, ‘Cat, you are going to be playing outside back.’ I went, geez, I’ve played forward since I was 4 years old. I’ve never played anything else.”
Sebazco adjusted quickly to the position, and actually really enjoyed playing in the defense.
“I liked that I was a player that they could put me where they need me,” Sebazco said. “As long as I am on the field, I’ll play anywhere. I know what to do, I know what my job is.”
Sebazco and her teammates worked hard with the strength and conditioning staff last summer, and she entered her junior campaign healthy and ready to play a new position. Again, it did not work out like she hoped.
In the very first practice of preseason, Sebazco hurt her hamstring running sprints. She tried to play through it but ended up sitting out two weeks with the injury. She committed herself to rehab, getting treatment and strengthening her leg.
She saw limited time the first seven games of the season, playing a little defense but also going in at forward. She played the final eight minutes of the Texas Southern game and scored the team’s seventh goal of the game.
“It felt awesome,” Sebazco said about the goal. “I remember, I froze in my brain, and I said, ‘don’t freaking miss this, you need this.’ My first touch came off my chest and then I volleyed the ball into the back of the net. I didn’t really hear anything, I just heard the sound of the net, and that was probably one of the best sounds I have heard. I’m smiling just talking about it. It was so exciting.”
Sebazco played a career-high 46 minutes the next game against Arkansas and has played every game since, mostly at forward where is more comfortable. She started her first career game against Rice at forward, and then had the game-winning goal against WKU.
“My first goal was my junior year. It’s been a long time coming for me. And I’m really excited about it. Coming from my high school where I was the leading goal scorer, and with my club team I was always scoring goals. Finally, being able to get my name on the stat sheet here is awesome. I’ve been waiting for it. And I know John has been waiting for it for me too. It’s nice to feel like I’m getting my groove back.”
Sebazco credits her mindset and her teammates to being able to stick through her setbacks.
“You fall in love with the game again every time you get these opportunities. It’s really nice to feel a part of it. It’s a really good feeling. I always felt valued on the team. All of my teammates have always been supportive, even girls who are gone now. They always would say, ‘Keep your head up. Don’t give up. You are here for a reason.’
“I’m glad I believed in myself and believed in what they were saying.”
Sebazco has played in eight of the 12 games so far this season and has played 40-plus minutes for the last five games.
“Whether I start or come off the bench, my goal is always to bring the same energy and spark that John sees in me. Regardless of whether I am first or second team, it doesn’t matter, I am going to contribute in the best way that I can.”
The Mean Green is competing for its third-straight regular-season conference title, and Sebazco and the rest of the team are playing with a lot of confidence at the midway point of the season.
“There is always room for improvement, but I have the upmost confidence in myself and this team,” Sebazco said. “I feel that this is a good year for us. A lot of people were doubting us and I think we were doubting ourselves in the beginning because we lost all of our starters. We found that confidence in ourselves.”