John Hedlund knew North Texas would likely land a few players on the All-Conference USA team when it came out Monday afternoon.
What UNT’s head coach didn’t expect was a clean sweep.
Freshman forward Rachel Holden was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, while senior defender Kelsey Hodges was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Senior forward Vanessa Ibewuike was named to the third team.
“That is something that you really never see in just about any sport, one team getting both, especially when there are 16 teams in the league,” Hedlund said. “I was pretty excited not only for those two but also for the program.”
UNT is the No. 2 seed from the West Division in the conference tournament and will take on East No. 3 Florida International at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Houston.
Holden has 13 goals to rank second in the league and scored the game-winner on Thursday against UTEP in a win that clinched a second seed in this week’s tournament. She also was named the Freshman of the Year, a first-team all-conference pick and a member of the All-Freshman team.
Hodges has eight goals and three assists on the season and also earned first-team all-conference honors. She has 31 career goals, which ranks eighth in UNT history, and also ranks in the top 10 in converted penalty shots, minutes, shots on goal, game-winning goals and starts.
Hodges has been named to first-team all-conference in three straight seasons.
“They were very consistent with their play,” Hedlund said. “Rachel had 12 goals and was a threat. She scored some big goals, especially in conference play. People saw how well Hodges ran our back line, and she got up the field and scored in some set pieces.”
Ibewuike earned her first career all-conference nod thanks to five goals and six assists.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.