Soccer returns home after five game road trip

Soccer returns home after five game road trip

October 22
20:39 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

The last time North Texas hosted a home soccer game, the Ebola virus hadn’t arrived in Dallas yet.

The Mean Green soccer team played its previous five games on the road, making it 26 days between home games when the Mean Green host the University of North Carolina Charlotte on Friday.

“We’ve never had anything like this, to be honest,” head coach John Hedlund said. “Not one of them has been an easy game.”

Since a dominating 4-0 win over the University of Southern Mississippi on September 28, North Texas has played five conference games on the road that included matchups with conference powers Rice University and the University of Texas – El Paso.

The Mean Green went 3-1-1 on the extended road trip and came home with 16 points in the Conference USA standings, sitting three points ahead of a three-way tie at second place between Rice, UTEP, and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Hedlund said that the unusually long road trip was an unlucky draw.

“They apologized to me several times because you really don’t see that,” Hedlund said. “You’ll go on the road and you’ll always come back home. You might play three on the road and come back home and play two or three, but never five on the road.”

Each game presented a unique set of challenges. The first game of the road trip was UTEP, who the team beat 1-0. North Texas played its next match against UTSA without Hedlund at the helm because of an ejection in the UTEP game for arguing a foul call.

Rice was second place in the C-USA standings when they hosted North Texas halfway through the road trip and would have defeated the Mean Green had they not scored a goal on themselves early in the contest.

The Mean Green then traveled out of state last Wednesday to play two matches against two Florida teams in C-USA. North Texas was shutout 2-0 against Florida Atlantic University, but bounced back and defeated Florida International University 2-1 after some late game heroics by forwards Rachel Holden and Karla Pineda.

Yet despite these challenges, the Mean Green came home on Sunday night controlling its own destiny in C-USA. Hedlund said his team showed a lot of heart through the vigorous schedule.

“It was very difficult, but it just shows how strong the team is and the character of this team,” Hedlund said.

Assistant coach Daniel Dobson also said that the extended time away from home made the Mean Green a stronger team.

“Anytime you’re on the road for five games in a row, it’s tough,” Dobson said. “But really and truly, the girls got a lot of good bonding in and really made us closer as a team.”

Earlier this season, the Mean Green struggled to close out games and lost two last-minute heartbreakers in the span of a week against Oklahoma University and Gonzaga University. During the Mean Green’s final game of the road trip against FIU, a similar late defensive lapse occurred, but the Mean Green bounced back this time and scored to prevent overtime. Junior forward Karla Pineda said that her and her teammates have learned to persevere through adversity.

“It just says that we never give up,” Pineda said. “We’re just trying to finish off the teams and not go into overtime.”

With the road trip concluded, North Texas’s final three games of the 2014 regular season will be played in Denton. The team will have the opportunity to secure a tournament seed in front of its own fans.

“Now we get to come back home and play three home games in front of our fans and try to wrap up the regular season title,” Hedlund said.

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