North Texas faces the Texas Longhorns in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. in Austin. The Mean Green is the fourth seed playing in the Austin Regional along with Texas, SMU, West Virginia. The Longhorns are the top seed regionally and the No. 12 seed nationally. This will be only the second meeting between the two teams. North Texas won the only previous match-up in 1999, a 2-1 victory in overtime in Denton. The Longhorns are coming off a loss in the Big XII title game to Texas A&M 3-0.
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Off To The NCAA
North Texas will be making its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament thanks to its first Sun Belt Conference Tournament title. The victory by North Texas is the first in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship after entering the match 0-4 in the previous tournament finals.
All Tourney Honors
Alyssa Carrier is the first North Texas player to be named The Most Outstanding Player of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Carrier’s game-winning goal against FIU gave her a career-high six goals on the season. Senior forward Melinda Pina was named to the all-tournament team for the fourth straight year becoming the first player in North Texas history to be a four-time all-tournament selection. Dani Slavonic, who scored the game-winning goal against South Alabama, is the first North Texas freshman to be named to the Sun Belt Conference all-tournament team. Junior Goalkeeper Briana Buchanan was also named to the all-tournament team after posting two shutouts and allowing only one goal throughout the entire tournament.
Freshman Heather Hutyra is one shot away from breaking the single season record for shots by a freshman at North Texas. She currently has 81 shots and has tied the record set by Marilyn Marin during the 2000 season. The 81 shots are tied for fourth most in a single season.
The two teams have three common opponents this season, Baylor, Texas A&M, and SMU. North Texas went a combined 1-2 while Texas was 0-3-1.
For the first time this season North Texas is ranked in the Central Region by Soccer Buzz Magazine. The Mean Green check in at No. 15 this week, while Texas is ranked fifth. This is the first time that North Texas has been regionally ranked since the 2002 season.
Peaking At The Right Time
North Texas has won four straight games for the third time this season. The Mean Green is playing its best soccer of the season with six wins in their past seven games, the best stretch of the year. The Mean Green has only lost once in the past nine games and are 11-2-1 since the end of September. Away from home North Texas has been even more impressive with an 8-2 record on the road or in neutral site games.
Defense Is The Key
It sounds easy but one of the main reasons to the success by North Texas this year has been the defense. When the Mean Green allow one goal or fewer they are 16-1-1. The North Texas offense is also a good indicator. When scoring just a single goal or more North Texas is 16-1 on the year.
Second Half Dominance
North Texas has not allowed a goal in the second half of play in four straight games. Over the past nine games, the Mean Green defense has given up only two goals in the second half, both against Texas A&M. The other eight opponents have been shutout in the second half against North Texas.
Buchanan Staying Strong
Goalkeeper Briana Buchanan now has 10 shutouts this season, already the school record for most in a single season. Buchanan has 184 saves for her career, third all-time and only 19 away from the career record. She is also on pace to have the fourth-best goals against average in school history at 0.85.
School Records Set
This has been a record setting year for North Texas and with the victory over FIU, North Texas broke the school record for most wins in a single season with their 16th win of the year. The Mean Green also set a new school record for consecutive home wins this season at 16. North Texas placed four players on the Sun Belt Conference all-tournament team, the most in school history. The 11 shutouts for the Mean Green this season are a new school record.