HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — The North Texas soccer team held Conference USA's top goal-scoring offense, Southern Miss, to just three shots in route to a dominating 3-0 victory on the road Thursday afternoon.
The Mean Green (6-1-1, 1-0) received early goal contributions from newcomers and contained the Golden Eagles (7-2, 1-1) offense that entered Thursday averaging 3.5 goals per match to just one late desperation shot on goal as their only threat.
"The team is very proud of its 40 RPI ranking," North Texas head coach John Hedlund
said. "They are ranked third in the region and still receiving votes for top 25. It's something that they have earned and really want to battle for to keep it intact, and showed it today."
UNT's offense controlled most of the possession while it's defense stopped any kind of USM attack, especially from its leading goal scorer Miah Zuazua, who is second in C-USA in goals with seven. Zuazua finished with one shot in the match that came in the first half and was wide.
North Texas has looked sharp on defense all year. Thursday was the Mean Green's fifth shutout of the early season. Where the team had lacked the most was finding offensive production from more than just its three starting forwards.
Early in Thursday's match they got that.
In the 20th minute, senior captain defender Carissa Sanders
scored her first goal of the season and just her second of her career by striking a shot in front of the net off an assist from classmate Aaliyah Nolan
. The assist was Nolan's third in the team's last four matches.
Roughly 10 minutes later, sophomore forward Berklee Peters
scored her first goal of the season with a shot to the opposite corner from inside 18 yards to give UNT a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first half.
North Texas is 5-0 this season when they score two or more goals.
The goal from Peters got a huge monkey off her back as the Keller native hadn't scored since she netted five goals in two consecutive matches last September.
Peters' goal Thursday was the most impressive of the three as she worked to find open space inside the box off of a pass from Natalie Newell
and fired the shot past the outstretched arms of the USM goalie to the corner of goal.
"I have been working all week after practice with shooting and it finally paid off," Peters said. "I can't wait to keep the winning streak going this year and work towards another ring."
From that point on, North Texas continued to pressure Southern Miss and only picked up steam. UNT outshot the Golden Eagles 7-1 in the second-half and 17-3 for the entire match. The Mean Green defense held Southern Miss to just one shot attempt in the second-half, which came in the 84th minute when North Texas already had 3-0 lead. The USM second-half shot was taken from well outside the box and was put on net but was no problem for goalie Kelsey Brann
(6-1-1), who had no Southern Miss players around her for her lone save of the day.
North Texas' third goal came a few minutes before that in the 81st minute, and this time it came off the foot of someone who has become familiar with the box score.
Senior Taylor Torres
found the back of the net with a quick fire shot from right in front of the net to give the Mean Green their deciding 3-0 road win. The goal was Torres' sixth of the year and her fourth in the last three matches for the Mean Green. She has recorded 10 points in the last four matches.
North Texas takes its four-match winning streak to Middle Tennessee on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. central time. UNT goes from facing the conference's no. 2 goal scorer to facing the top goal scorer in Middle Tennessee's Hannah Tillett, who has eight goals entering Thursday.
The Mean Green beat Middle Tennessee 4-1 last year in the C-USA Tournament quarterfinal round and Torres scored a hat trick.
- North Texas remains unbeaten in conference openers since 2010.
- Torres is tied for second in the conference in points per match and is just two total goals off the conference leader.
- Torres is averaging two points per match for the season, and is two goals from tying her single-season career-high.
- Junior Dominique James played all 90 minutes on Thursday and has now played in 450 consecutive minutes.
- North Texas has outscored its eight opponents 18-3.