Defending For It
Mean Green Take Their Prolific Defense To Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thursday the North Texas soccer team heads to Charlotte with the goal of keeping pace of the Conference USA standings and their continued pursuit of a fourth consecutive conference championship.
Though they don’t get many stats, the Mean Green’s current 10-match unbeaten streak can be largely attributed to the success of their defense. A consistent backline that has given up only nine goals in all 14 games combined this season — the fewest of the 14 teams in C-USA.
It took some time, but consistency, communications and a culture of defensive prowess has built a sturdy relationship in this year’s North Texas defensive curtain.
“We definitely take pride in shutouts,” said sophomore defender Dominique James. “It’s of course the goal every team we go out there but it’s not easy. It’s a great feeling and sense of accomplishment.”
In their most recent match, the Mean Green (10-2-2) shutout the then third-place UAB Blazers, 1-0. It was their eighth shutout this season and sixth during their current 10-match unbeaten streak.
But it wasn’t just luck.
UAB was riding its own nine-match unbeaten streak, a program record, and still the Mean Green limited the Blazers to half as many shot attempts as they were averaging for the year.
The defensive strangle the Mean Green have put on its opponents hasn’t always been there all year.
North Texas lost two of its first four games. Both losses came at home. The Mean Green hadn’t lost at home in almost two years.
“We’re a young team and I think early on we couldn’t communicate well or connect,” said defender Madeline Guderian. “We’ve come a long ways since then though.”
Guderian said the team has come together on their own every week and met to discuss what they can do better and how problems can be fixed. Furthermore, the meetings have helped bring the unfamiliar and inexperienced team together.
“We’ve grown closer together and have built stronger relationships that go a long ways on the field,” she added.”
Friday versus UAB, freshman Logan Bruffett made her debut at the outside back defense position and played all 90 minutes.
“The team gave me confidence,” Bruffett said following the match. “But the game came down to the wire and I had to play well. There was no other option. When you play defense at North Texas you have to give it your all.”
Building a culture of defense is a backbone to the Mean Green’s success this season and in the program’s 23-year history.
If North Texas can keep its unbeaten streak alive at Charlotte on Thursday, they will go for their 12th consecutive match without a loss on Sunday at Old Dominion.
Despite all the conference championship trophies in recent years, the Mean Green haven’t gone on a 12-match unbeaten streak since 2006.