DENTON, Tex. (10/21/05) For true freshman Brittany Cleveland, it might have been her first North Texas-Denver soccer match, but it will be one she will not soon forget. In dramatic fashion Cleveland scored the game-winning goal for the Mean Green in the 80th minute of play to lift North Texas (12-2-2, 7-0) to a 1-0 win over Denver (7-7-2, 4-2-1) at the Mean Green Soccer Complex.
Cleveland scored the goal off a corner kick when sophomore Lauren Weller deflected a pass to Cleveland, who was able to find the back of the net from five yards out. The win is the seventh straight for the Mean Green and extends their unbeaten streak to 14 games, the third longest in the nation.
“We got the corner kick and Lauren was able to just find a way to get me the ball. We went at the net really hard and tried to make something good happen and I was just able to score,” said Cleveland.
The goal is the fifth of the year for Cleveland and capped off a furious battle between the top two teams in the Sun Belt Conference. The win puts the Mean Green in control of the conference championship race with just two games left. North Texas will win the regular season conference title with a win in one of their final two games on the road against Western Kentucky or Middle Tennessee.
“If your going to beat a team like Denver it has to be a total team effort and we had that tonight,” said North Texas head coach John Hedlund. “I’m really proud of this team because we really worked hard and found a way to win”.
In a tight scoreless match, the Mean Green outshot the Pioneers 24-6 for the game, but couldn’t break through the Denver defense in the first half. The best chance by the Mean Green in the first half came in the 25th minute when Heather Hutyra sent a free kick from 25 yards out just over the cross bar.
Denver’s best scoring chance of the night came in the 15th minute of play. Lleane Grimditch fired a shot from 15 yards out that goalkeeper Kandice Ellis sprawled out to prevent from finding the top right corner of the net.
Ellis made three saves on the night to record her sixth shutout of the season and extend her scoreless streak to 365 minutes without allowing a goal.
“This team just showed so much character throughout and we just want to keep this thing going. We want to keep this streak alive” Hedlund said.
The win caps off the fourth unbeaten season at home in school history for North Texas at 9-0-1.
North Texas returns to action next Friday with two road games to close out the regular season starting with a battle at Western Kentucky.