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Soccer: UNT scores win at TCU

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From news reports

FORT WORTH — North Texas narrowly missed a pair of opportunities to post a milestone win earlier this season.

UNT had a third chance on Sunday and took full advantage, knocking off rival TCU 2-0 on the road in a game that was televised on Fox Sports Southwest. The win was UNT’s first over its area rival from the Big 12 and pushed the Mean Green to 4-2 on the year.

“It’s a big win for us because the game was on the road and it was against [an area] rival in TCU,” UNT head coach John Hedlund said. “It’s good for recruiting, and it was on TV. There were a lot of positives to come out of it, and we played really well.”

UNT’s three forwards — Rachel Holden,Vanessa Ibewuike and Amber Haggerty — gave the Horned Frogs (2-3-1) fits all afternoon. The trio combined for 12 shots and notched both of UNT’s goals midway through the opening frame.

Holden posted her Conference USA-high sixth goal of the season in the 19th minute, when she redirected a feed from Ibewuike into the left side of the box and buried it past the TCU keeper.

Just four minutes later, Karla Pineda led a UNT counterattack and found Haggerty streaking down the left side. Haggerty’s left-footed blast powered its way into the goal to put the Mean Green on top 2-0.

“What we are able to throw at teams with all the speed that we have is impressive,” Hedlund said. “They are a load for any team to try to defend. It puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses because they all have breakaway speed.”

UNT’s defense and goalkeeper Haley Riley took care of the rest. Riley made her second straight start after moving into the lineup to replace Jackie Kerestine, the Most Outstanding Player in last season’s Sun Belt Conference tournament, who is out for the year with a knee injury.

Riley finished with five saves and posted her second straight shutout of the weekend after blanking Sam Houston in a 3-0 win on Friday.

“Haley played awesome today,” Hedlund said. “She was poised and played with a lot of confidence. She didn’t give any second chances on their shots.”

UNT controlled the game after jumping out to its early lead and outshot the Horned Frogs 12-5 in the second half. The Mean Green lost each of its three previous meetings with TCU, including a 1-0 loss last season in Denton that ended UNT’s 17-game home unbeaten streak.

The win was also UNT’s first over a Big 12 opponent since 2009, when the Mean Green beat Baylor. UNT’s last road win over a Big 12 team also came against the Bears, back in 2008.

UNT’s win over TCU came just days after a pair of close losses in which the Mean Green saw a chance to post a milestone win slip away. UNT took 10th-ranked Wake Forest to double overtime before falling 2-1 and came back from a two-goal deficit to tie its game against Virginia Tech before ultimately falling 4-2.

UNT had another shot at a big win early in its season and capitalized on Saturday.