Mean Green Soccer Looks To Start A New Winning Streak This Weekend
Phillips Is Back In Her Comfort Zone, Playing Defense
North Texas vs. UAB
Friday, Oct. 14
7 p.m. l Birmingham, Ala.
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DENTON - One of the strengths of the 2016 Mean Green soccer team is its depth. Starting with preseason, North Texas has had competitive practices, which has led to the coaching staff consistently using six to eight players off the bench during all of its games.
When two starters went down with injuries, two reserves were plugged in seamlessly. One of those players was Tori Phillips, who has subbed in for Alexsis Cable, at the center back position.
Phillips, one of the Mean Green’s most versatile players, has started 11 of 14 games this season. She has started games at defense, midfield and forward. She grew up playing center back for her select team so it is a role she is comfortable in.
“This is my comfort spot because I have so much experience with it, but I enjoy playing midfield and forward,” Phillips said. “I love to score. That is one of my favorite things to do. I mean that is every soccer player’s favorite thing to do. As a forward or as a midfielder, I have more opportunities to score. Wherever John wants me, I’ll gladly play.”
Phillips was recruited to play the center back position, to help fill the void of graduated all-conference player Kelsey Hodges.
As a freshman, she started the last 13 games in the defense and helped the Mean Green win a regular-season conference title. She played defense and midfield as a sophomore and then started the 2016 at the defensive midfielder position.
One of the strengths to having Phillips in the lineup is her big kick. She can take a long free kick and place it into the box for the goalkeeper to make a play on or for someone like Anna Flobeck to get her head on. Phillips is tied for the team lead with three assists.
“I grew up taking goal kicks and corner kicks,” Phillips said. “That used to be specialty; take free kicks and score off those.”
Phillips started playing soccer at a young age. She watched her older brother play, learned from him and when she began playing on teams was one of the more advanced players. As a youth player from Forney, Texas, she played with Mustangs FC and the Dallas Home School Athletic Association. Philips was homeschooled from eighth grade on.
“My best friend, Kayla, was homeschooled in fourth grade,” Phillips said. “She loved it, and I went to public school. She called me one day and said ‘hey, you should home school with me for a year, and then you can go back to high school. It would be fun.’”
Their moms talked, and Phillips was homeschooled for eighth grade and loved it. Her grandmother retired from teaching around the same time, and volunteered to teach her through high school.
Phillips really enjoyed the experience, it kept her days filled, especially on the sport side.
“I played basketball and soccer with Dallas HSAA, and I played for the Mustangs for select,” Phillips said. “The seasons were the same and so I would go from game-to-game or practice-to-game. Every single day I had something to do. I think it prepared me for college a lot more than I thought it would.”
And although Philips is one of the minority on the soccer team with her home-school experience, she fits in just as well as anyone on the team.
“I feel as though I am exactly the same as the kids here who went to public school,” Phillips said. “I had a ton of friends in high school, I had my sport organizations, I went to co-ops, I got to socialize.
I came here and I feel like I fit in. I feel like adjusting to the college life of doing it on your own and self-motivation, home schooling helped me a lot.”
Phillips and the Mean Green face UAB on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. on the road. North Texas is 4-1 in conference play.