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Soccer Opens Conference Play with Tie

Danica Roberts

Sept. 27, 2013

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DENTON, Texas - The Southern Miss soccer team began Conference USA play in a style identical to its start of regular-season play ... a nail-biter on the road. Friday, the Golden Eagles began conference play with a 1-1, double-overtime thriller versus North Texas.

It was the first meeting between Southern Miss (6-2-3, 0-0-1) and North Texas (6-3-1, 0-0-1) and it did not fail to produce in the drama department as the Golden Eagles went blow-for-blow with a team that holds wins over Oklahoma and TCU of the Big 12 and had recently played a Top-10 team to a one-goal decision.

"This was a massive result for us," Coach Mohammed El-Zare said. "In terms of how the team played together and battled through to the finish of a tough match against a great opponent, I couldn't be prouder."

The Golden Eagles rebounded from an early setback, a 12th-minute goal by the Mean Green's Vanessa Ibewuike, assisted by Rachel Holden, which gave North Texas an early lead.

Southern Miss was not fazed, though, and settled into its game before a 42nd-minute unassisted goal by Danica Roberts, who sent home her conference-best 12th goal of the season and tied the match.

In the second half and two overtime periods, neither team's defense proved particularly willing to allow either offense to capitalize.

"We played a great brand of soccer second half and overtime," El-Zare said. "The girls really stuck to the game plan and dictated the pace of the game. We played the style of game that we wanted to play, which shows me a lot of maturity from the team. But it's not just a maturity of the girls as people but a tactical maturity as soccer players. I couldn't be prouder."

Southern Miss freshman goalie Brittany Taylor (3-2-3), who has made game-preserving saves late in multiple games this season, came up big. On Friday, she made 12 saves, including four saves in the overtime sessions.

North Texas keeper Haley Riley (5-1-1) made four saves on the night after facing 10 shots, six on goal, by the Golden Eagles.

This was Southern Miss Soccer's fifth overtime match of the year. The Golden Eagles have a 1-1-3 record in games that have gone to extra time.

Southern Miss returns to action Sunday at 2 p.m. with another conference road match, this one in El Paso, Texas, and against UTEP.

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