Ladies and gentleman, your North Texas Mean Green are CUSA champs!
Like any conference championship, winning is rewarded with tougher competition. The squad will now compete in the NCAA tournament. Last seasons’ champion Rice fell to Texas 3-0 in the first round. We, like all of CUSA, will be expecting better from this group. As we discussed with starting LCB Molly Grisham on the podcast, this championship was expected.
This was the second straight appearance in the title game and the team desired a measure of revenge. Last year’s title game loss vs Rice saw star GK Jackie Kerestine go out early with an injury and a late goal from Rice.
North Texas got a bit of revenge on Rice to end the season on the final day, and rode the good form on to three straight 1-0 victory. While not the free-scoring squad that we saw in the regular season, defensive, gritty soccer is what this team builds their offense upon. The backline and Kerestine boasted 13 shutouts this regular season added three in the tournament.
This team should be a handful in the NCAAs considering their defensive prowess, speed on the wings, and skilled #10 Karla Pineda. North Texas is most dangerous on set-pieces, despite the talent on the field. Amber Haggerty pounced on a ball thrown in the box by Marchelle Davis early in the first half, forcing the keeper to make a save on her header. She then followed that shot and tapped in the rebound for the first and only score of the game.
Although Marshall produced some chances late, Kerestine and company were never consistently threatened. Jackie did make two highlight saves. The first was on a long shot from outside the box that forced her to dive right. The second, late in the match was off a set piece header that she punched out.
Rachel Holden, reining CUSA Offensive CO-POY, was named offensive player of the tournament and Jackie Kerestine nabbed the Defensive award. We’ll find out the matchup on Monday November 9th.