BOCA RATON, Fla. - North Texas went ahead on an early goal and kept the Florida Atlantic University women's soccer team at bay in ending the Owls' season in the Conference USA Championship semifinal round, 2-0 on Friday at FAU Soccer Stadium.
North Texas (14-3-3) got on the board just 11:15 into the matchup, when Ariel Diaz was on the receiving end of a give and go from Elle Marie DeFrain for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal. At the half, the Mean Green had 12 shots to only four for FAU (11-8-2).
The Owls swarmed the net in the second half, including shots on goal by Sammy Vitols and Tiril Haga. As the team pushed up looking for the equalizer, NT countered and all but cemented the win with a goal by Aaliyah Nolan with about five minutes left.
- The Mean Green early goal snapped a streak of over 456 minutes in which FAU hadn't given up a goal, an equivalent of more than five matches
- Defender Madison Caldwell played all 90 minutes in her last match as an Owl
- Also seeing her final action was Asta Arnadottir, who had a shot attempt during her 85 minutes in midfield
- The Owls bid farewell as well to Lucy Carter, Kelly Harris, Sammy Lujan, Alex Mastrobuono and Maddie Pung
- The four four-year seniors - Arnadottir, Caldwell, Mastrobuono and Pung - end their career with 42 total victories, three consecutive seasons with 11 or more wins and three C-USA Tournament appearances (advancing to the championship match last year and semis during this run)
- Vitols led the squad Friday with three shot attempts. The Owls outshot NT in the second half, 7-6
"First of all, congratulations to Coach (John) Hedlund and his staff and his girls on winning the game and advancing. It was a battle," said Head Coach Patrick Baker about North Texas, before speaking about his departing seniors: "It's a special group, they came to FAU when a lot of other young ladies wouldn't. We were recruiting them after our first year, or while that first year was going on, and we only won five games. They came in as freshman, a lot of them played, and now they're leaving with this precedent of winning seasons and getting to at least the conference semifinals, and I'm just really proud of them ... Unfortunately, a lot of good people had their soccer careers end today."
Though the Owls' season has come to an end, the 2017 Conference USA Champions will still be determined at FAU Soccer Stadium. This Sunday at 11 a.m., North Texas plays No. 8 seed and defending tournament champion Charlotte, in a match to be broadcasted on ESPN3. Behind a goal from Martha Thomas, the 49ers defeated fourth-seeded Louisiana Tech Friday, 1-0, after overcoming top seed Rice in the opening round by the same score and same goal scorer.