DENTON, Texas (11-05-08) Kelli Lunsford scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick to help advance the Mean Green soccer team into the semi-finals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 2-1 victory over South Alabama in the first round Wednesday evening at the North Texas.
North Texas (15-3-1) moves on to play Western Kentucky (14-1-4) Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in a rematch of the classic thriller North Texas won 4-3 two weeks ago.
The Mean Green dominated possession on this particular evening against the Jaguars, outshooting them 22-9 and 11-5 shots on goal.
Freshman defender Shannon Gorrie scored the game’s first goal in the 27th minute on a shot from nearly 30 yards out that just beat the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Kelsie Langford. The goal was Gorrie first of her career and gave North Texas some need momentum.
However right before the half, USA’s Kelly Tarrant was tripped up in the box and was rewarded a penalty kick in the 44th minute. The senior would then drill a shot past goalkeeper Mandy Hall to tie the game at 1-1 going into intermission.
The Mean Green would return the favor in the second half when in the 59th minute, Kellie Lunsford was also given a penalty kick opportunity and delivered to give North Texas a 2-1 lead, one which they would keep the remaining of the night. The goal was Lunsford’s seventh of the season and her team-leading fourth game-winner.
North Texas had plenty of more chances to score but South Alabama scrambled to prevent falling farther behind.
“Give South Alabama’s defense credit,” North Texas head coach John Hedlund said. “They made it really tough on us all night and their keeper came up with some really big saves throughout the game.”
The Mean Green and Hedlund now possess an 18-6 record all-time in Sun Belt Tournament history and will look to improve that record tomorrow evening.
In other action on Wednesday there were three other tightly contested matches. Denver (one seed) defeated UALR (eight seed) 2-1. Fifth seeded Florida Atlantic upset fourth seeded Middle Tennessee 2-1 in overtime and Western Kentucky took down Florida International 1-0.
You can check all the results and watch games live tomorrow on sunbeltsports.org under the SBC Championship Central.