It was a match featuring two teams with unfinished business. The last time North Texas and Rice faced off it was in the regular-season finale, which ended in a draw. After a long match with no scoring until the 75-minute mark, No. 2 North Texas was able to secure the win with a 2-0 shutout against No. 3 Rice in the semi-finals. The Mean Green now has one last game standing between it and it’s sixth consecutive Conference USA Championship.
“It was a good win for us,” head coach John Hedlund said. “You know, every time we play Rice it’s a battle, there’s a rivalry between the two schools especially in this sport.” We knew it was going to come down to the wire our defense had been playing great and we were looking for somebody to put the ball in the net.”
Freshman forward Allie Byrd scored the first goal of the game within the last 15 minutes of the game. It didn’t take long for junior forward Berklee Peters to follow up her teammate’s goal with a score of her own as she found the back of the net for hr 14th goal of the year.
“I was just so excited,” Peters said. “I gave [Byrd] the biggest hug, it’s the greatest feeling. I try and get one every game, but I just wasn’t expecting it this game because I was just trying to set up more people than trying to get that goal.”
North Texas’ defense has been efficient so far this season as sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Brann has allowed two goals in the last seven matches. Brann in concert with the rest of the backline featuring senior Dominique James, Natalie Newell, junior Brooke Lampe and others have allowed one goal in the conference tournament after facing 14 shot attempts (5 on goal).
With North Texas’ eyeing it’s sixth straight conference title, No. 1 Florida Atlantic awaits them in the Conference USA Championship match. The Owls were one of the two teams to hand the Mean Green a loss in conference play this season after they were able to beat North Texas 1-0 in Boca Raton, Florida.
“I’m just ready to get that redemption against [Florida Atlantic],” Peters said. “Especially at home where we’re going to have so many people out. I’m just excited for that championship game and get that win and go to the NCAA’s.”
Featured Image: Sophomore Olivia Klein dribbles up the middle looking for open space during the Mean Green’s game against Rice on Nov. 8, 2019. Image by Jacob McCready