BOCA RATON, Florida (11/04/09) - The Mean Green soccer team could not have asked for a better first day of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Moments after watching the No. 1 seed FIU Golden Panthers get upset by UALR in overtime, the Mean Green went out and took care of their own business by defeating Middle Tennessee 2-1 and move on to the semi-finals for the 10th straight season.
Freshman forward Michelle Young scored the go-ahead goal in the 87th minute on an unassisted floating shot from the left side of the box that bounced past the far post and by the outstretched arms of MTU goalkeeper Rebecca Cushing. The goal was Young's team-leading ninth of the season and fourth game-winner.
"Well it was like two heavyweights going at each other and fortunately for us Michelle was able to get the winning goal late in the game," North Texas head coach John Hedlund said. "Now we'll focus on our 10th consecutive trip to the semi-finals against a tough UALR team."
North Texas outshot the Blue Raiders 23-12, including a 14-5 margin in the all-important second half. The Mean Green was the more physical team as well and led in fouls 16-9.
The two teams played a scoreless first half in which the Mean Green pounded out nine shots, five of which Cushing had to make saves on. Then coming out of halftime Middle Tennessee's Vanessa Mueggler broke the tie at the 57:13 mark with a shot off a cross from Hope Suominen to put the Blue Raiders up 1-0.
The goal put the Mean Green in an uneasy position as they had not won a game all season (0-5-1) in which the opponent struck first. However, North Texas would go against the trend on this day and the comeback began just five minutes later when sophomore defender Shannon Gorrie scored only the second goal of her career on an assist from Young towards the far post to tie the game 1-1.
Ironically enough, Gorrie's only other goal in her two year career also came in the Sun Belt Tournament last season in the team's first round win over South Alabama.
From then on out the Mean Green defense played well in front of keeper Mandy Hall, who only had to make three saves the entire afternoon.
North Texas will now face UALR tomorrow in the semi-finals at 3:00 p.m. (CT). To keep up with the Mean Green via live stats or streaming video click here.