Southern Miss (7-2, 1-1 C-USA) entered the match on a seven-game win streak after a 3-0 loss to North Texas (6-2-1, 1-0 C-USA) on Thursday, Sept. 20.
“You have to make sure that you stick to your roles and the way you want to play,” Southern Miss Head Coach Mohammed El-Zare said. “It is a good learning experience for our young team. We have a lot of players that are freshman and sophomores on this team. [I was] really pleased with the few minutes here and there they were able to give us.”
Last season, North Texas finished in second place in the C-USA and had a 13-4-4 regular season record. The Mean Green have built off of that success this season as they are currently receiving votes for the top 25 and hold a 40 RPI ranking.
“It’s not what went wrong, it’s what went right,” El-Zare said. “We played well for 25-30 minutes and everything we worked on was working. And we just needed to do a better of keeping to our game plan and sticking with it. North Texas is a powerhouse team of the conference and we gave them a good game but we just could not make a mistake when playing a team like that.”
Southern Miss only got two shots off in the first half. North Texas held Miah Zuazua, who was second in scored goals in C-USA entering the game, to just one shot.
The game remained scoreless with each team going back and forth. North Texas broke the stalemate at the 19:49 minute mark, narrowly scoring with the ball breaking the plane on top of a Southern Miss defender to go up 1-0. North Texas kept the momentum and scored again at the 31:01 mark with a perfectly placed kick to the upper left side of the goal, giving the Mean Greent a 2-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Mean Green outshot Southern Miss 8-1 and scored one more goal in the 84th minute to seal the win.
Overal, North Texas outshot Southern Miss 17-3 with 10 of the Mean Green’s shots being on goal.
Southern Miss goalkeeper Kendell Mindnich, who was the C-USA Goalkeeper of the Week last week, added seven saves in the game.
“Kendell has been outstanding,” El-Zare said. “She’s in her second year. She has little bit of season in her. She has worked hard in the offseason and just continues to show a lot of growth and maturity. She’s a really solid person that we trust back there. We just trust her and she’s doing an outstanding job.”
Despite the loss, Southern Miss currently sits in sixth place in the conference standings.
“We already have a system of play, we just have to improve a little bit on certain areas and just be a little bit cleaner in our defensive side of the game,” El-Zare said. “You look at the game they created goals from half chances. We just need to be a little bit cleaner and clearing those chances.”
Southern Miss will have the opportunity to rebound as it goes on a two-game road trip to Florida to play winless Florida International (0-10,0-2) and then take on current first place Florida Atlantic (5-6, 2-0). Game time against FIU is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, while the Golden Eagles will play FAU on Sunday, Sept. 30.