Blue Raiders face North Texas in pivotal SBC match Thursday

MT and Mean Green vie for the league's top seed

October 17, 2012 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -  Middle Tennessee and North Texas play in a pivotal Sun Belt match on Thursday that determines who may garner the top seed for the conference tournament in two weeks. The match is slated for 7pm in Denton, Texas.

Middle Tennessee (13-3, 8-0 Sun Belt) tied a school-record with its eighth consecutive win on Sunday. The Raiders are coming off two come from behind victories against Troy (3-1) and South Alabama (2-1). The record ninth win would break a previous streak of eight set during the 2006 campaign. A win on Thursday would give MT its first outright regular season Sun Belt title since joining the league in 2000. 

Earlier this week, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranked the Blue Raiders ninth in its South region poll. North Texas (12-3-2, 7-0-1) was listed just a notch above at eighth. The two programs are the only non-SEC teams in the top-10 poll. In the latest RPI rankings, Middle Tennessee holds a 66 ranking, while UNT follows immediately at 67th.

Through 16 matches, MT is averaging the No. 2 scoring offense in the country, boasting 3.19 goals per game. The Raiders have tallied nine games of three-plus goals and are led by senior midfielder Paige Goeglein.

The Fort Wayne, Ind., product has 14 goals, four assists and 32 points this season. She set a new school record with eight golden goals, which leads the NCAA. Goeglein is seventh nationally with 14 goals. Earlier this week, she earned three honors as the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week, the College Sports Madness SBC Player of the Week and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Women's Soccer Player of the Week.

There are four other Blue Raiders in double-digit scoring this season. Whitney Jorgenson has 23 points (eight goals and seven assists) through 16 contests. Freshmen Kate Loye (18) and Tori Hawkins (12) have combined for 30 points, while senior Regina Thomas has 14 points.

The goalkeeping tandem of Jessica Gilchrist and Kelsey Brouwer has split duties over the last few weekends. Gilchrist, a senior, holds a 5-1 mark with just seven goals given up in seven matches. Brouwer (8-2) holds a 1.10 goals against average, collecting 41 saves in 10 decisions.

The Mean Green enters the weekend having not lost a match in eight consecutive contests. North Texas has 22 points, just two behind MT's 24. Last weekend, UNT tallied wins over Arkansas State (2-1) and UALR (8-2). The squad boasts the Sun Belt's second best scoring offense with 2.47 goals per game. Karla Pineda leads the way with six goals, six assists and 18 points.

Sophomore Jackie Kerestine is the league's top goalkeeper with a 0.86 goals against average, while totaling 58 saves for an 81 save percentage.

Live stats of Thursday's match will be online at GoBlueRaiders.com. Fans can also follow live tweets @MT_Soccer.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.