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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Soccer transfers in players without sacrificing team chemistry

Article Originally Published by Reed Smith on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Reed Smith on North Texas Daily

Not every player on North Texas soccer takes the conventional way onto the roster. Eleven players have joined the team via transfer, making up a large chunk of the 28 woman roster. Each transfer has their own story and reason for ending up in Denton. 

After two seasons at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, junior defender Victoria Altieri made the decision to transfer to North Texas. 

“[North Texas] is a winning program, and that’s something I want to be a part of,” Altieri said.

Altieri was impressed with what Hedlund has done for the culture of Mean Green soccer.

“I think John [Hedlund has] done a really good job of not just winning one time, but [making winning] a long-term goal,” Altieri said.

While the program impressed Altieri, a number of family-related factors went into the defender’s decision as well. Altieri’s sister, Taylor Altieri played as a wing at Louisiana Monroe for four seasons, the last two alongside Victoria. 

“Getting the opportunity to play with my sister is something that I will cherish forever, and I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to do that,” Altieri said. 

However, following her sister’s graduation and a coaching change, Altieri found herself wanting out of Monroe.

“[The coaching change] was different from what I had originally signed up for, and my sister was no longer at [Louisiana Monroe],” Altieri said. “I decided to take a leap of faith.”

In her first season in Denton, Altieri has taken part in three games, with two clean sheets to her and the North Texas defense’s name. 

Transfers can come from the most unexpected suitors, even conference rivals. Redshirt junior defender Hanna Banks is a prime example of this unexpected scenario, as Banks played at Louisiana Tech University before transferring to North Texas in 2019.

 “I did not enjoy my coach at Louisiana Tech,” Banks said. “Even though I did a lot for [the coach], I feel like he wasn’t very respectful of me.”

Contrary to her experience at Louisiana Tech, Banks has found a kind and loyal environment in North Texas.

“Everyone is just so kind [at North Texas],” Banks said. “When I first moved here, team captain Brooke Lampe was very welcoming.”

From a negative situation, Banks has found a home in Denton playing for the Mean Green. Playing in all of the games in 2020 and every game so far in 2021, Banks has become a permanent fixture in the North Texas 11. 

In terms of making an instant impact, no transfer tops redshirt junior midfielder Taylor Tufts. Coming from the University of Oklahoma, Tufts is one of two Big 12 transfers on the squad along with forward Madison Drenowatz from Texas Tech University. 

Tufts attributes her leaving Oklahoma to the program as not being the right place for the redshirt junior. 

“Oklahoma was just not the right fit for me,” Tufts said. “I would butt heads with the coaching staff, and the team chemistry was not great at all.”

Looking to transfer following her first season at Oklahoma, Tufts was already familiar with North Texas’ program. Coming from Southlake, TX–which is 38 miles south of Denton–Tufts’ head coach at the esteemed Carroll High School familiarized Tufts with the program. 

“[Carroll head coach] Matt Colvin knows [North Texas head coach] John Hedlund,” Tufts said. “[Colvin] pushed me into looking into [North Texas] out of high school as well, so I already knew about the program.”

Tufts has had an elite start to her 2021 season at North Texas, leading the nation in assists, with six through four games.

 For a team with women from all parts of the state, and with 11 transfers, North Texas soccer does not struggle to find chemistry within their ranks, finding a way to keep a winning culture and success with new faces. 

“Yes, we have a lot of incomers and new transfers,” Tufts said. “[The team] spends time together outside of soccer, and I feel like allowing us to get to know each other makes it easier to trust each other on the field.”

Photo courtesy Mean Green Sports

Source: North Texas Daily

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