DENTON, Texas (10-24-08) The North Texas soccer team took a significant advantage in the Sun Belt standings Friday evening with a 2-1 win over Middle Tennessee at home. Also to their benefit was Western Kentucky winning at Denver, making Sunday’s showdown between the Mean Green and the Hilltoppers all the more meaningful.
North Texas (13-2-1, 7-1-1) is now tied for second place with Denver (14-2-2, 7-1-1) and sit only one game back of now first place Western Kentucky (13-0-3, 7-0-2). Middle Tennessee fell to 9-6-2, 7-2 with the loss.
In a game that showcased the top two Freshman of the Year Candidates, Kelsey Perlman (NT) and Shan Jones (MT), it was Perlman who shined the brightest by scoring the game’s first goal en route to one of the bigger wins of the season for North Texas.
The goal came on a perfect cross field assist from senior midfielder Gennifer Hurst, who placed it to Perlman in stride for her team-leading 10th goal of the season.
“Things are starting to align for us after tonight,” Perlman said. “That first goal was huge. I was kind of nervous coming in because I knew the matchup of myself against Jones but after that first goal all the nerves went away.”
Jones, who came into the game with 11 goals and 51 shots, was held without a shot attempt thanks to some stellar Mean Green defense.
The biggest goal of the game came in the 47th minute when senior forward Brittany Cleveland headed in a pass from Shannon Gorrie, giving the Mean Green a 2-0 advantage at the time.
Middle Tennessee did not go down quietly, scoring on Jennifer Threlkeld’s third goal of the season in the 70th minute when she also put in a header that beat goalie Mandy Hall. However, the Mean Green’s defense did not allow another shot from that point on.
“Give Middle Tennessee credit,” North Texas head coach John Hedlund said. “When we went up 2-0 they never quit and they showed a lot of character making it a very tight game all the way to the end. I thought our defense played outstanding tonight and Kelsey and Brittany came up with some big goals.”
The Mean Green has only two games left in the regular season and both have become enormous with the latest developments. On Sunday the Mean Green host Western Kentucky at 1 p.m. Then next Friday, October 31 North Texas hosts Denver to close out the season.
Fans can get into Sunday’s game free of charge if they bring their ticket stub from Saturday’s football game against Troy.