The North Texas women’s soccer team was picked to win the Conference USA title in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll that was released on Monday.
The Mean Green shared the league’s regular season title with Florida Atlantic and captured the conference tournament last season on their way to a 15-3-3 finish.
UNT lost several of its top players to graduation but has a group of veterans to build around, including Dominique James. The senior was named C-USA’s preseason defensive player of the year.
James was named C-USA’s player of the year and defensive player of the year last season in addition to being the first in program history to be named an All-American. She was a third-team selection.
James is among 58 players on the watch list for the Women’s MAC Hermann Trophy that goes to the nation’s top player each year.
UNT allowed just 13 goals all season, with James and goalkeeper Kelsey Brann leading the way. The Mean Green advanced to the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in program history and took Texas A&M to double overtime before falling 1-0.
The Mean Green were ranked as high as No. 24 nationally in 2018 and received one vote in the United Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
The question now for UNT is if it can recreate the chemistry it displayed last season while incorporating 15 newcomers.
Aaliyah Nolan and Taylor Torres were UNT’s top two scorers last season and combined to score 17 goals. Junior Berklee Peters is UNT’s top returning scorer after tallying six goals in 2018.
Highly regarded freshman forward Allie Byrd, a first-team all-state selection from Kingwood, is expected to pick up some of the scoring load.
FAU was picked to finish second in C-USA. Rice, UNT’s longtime rival, was picked third. Southern Miss was the only team other than UNT to receive a first-place vote.
UNT picked up 13 of the 14 votes.
The Mean Green will travel to Florida for exhibition two matches this weekend. UNT will take on South Florida on Friday before facing Central Florida on Sunday.
UNT will play its season opener and its first game at its new home stadium on Aug. 22 when it hosts Northwestern State.