Aaliyah Nolan and her University of North Texas Women’s Soccer teammates had done everything right.
The teams defense withstood No. 12 Santa Clara's wave of offensive attacks for 74 minutes.
It worked as a unit and was a literal wall against the high volume Bronco offensive push.
But one mistake was all Santa Clara needed as they beat the North Texas 1-0 in Santa Clara, California.
"I'm really proud of my team's effort tonight," said head coach John Hedlund. "Defensively we battled a great team for 90 minutes and fought to the very end."
A physical foul in the box by North Texas defender Logan Bruffett in the 74h minute put the reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Week Maria Sanchez at the penalty spot for a penalty kick. Sanchez fired the shot just under the outstretched arms of North Texas goalie Kelsey Brann to give them the lead.
A deflating blow for the University of North Texas defense that blocked eight of Santa Clara's 15 shots and saw its center backs Dominique James and Carissa Sanders play the entire 90 minutes. Fellow defender Natalie Newell sat for just three minutes at the end of the first half when UNT attempted to make a late half offensive push with fresh legs.
A match that was hyped as an offensive showdown between two teams that were averaging more than two goals per match and both coming off four-goal performances in their most recent matches was deadlocked for most of it on both ends.
While the University of North Texas held Santa Clara's attack, its own offense struggled to get many solid looks against the Broncos' physical and large defense.
"Offensively we found ourselves playing more defense than we wanted but credit Santa Clara, they can come at you in waves which really took away the consistent pressure we wanted to put on its backline and goalkeeper," Hedlund said.
Though it wasn't recorded as a shot, freshman forward Olivia Klein gave UNT its best early shot when she took aim at the top right corner from the edge of the box but was denied by the quick hands of the senior Santa Clara keeper Melissa Lowder who has yet to allow a goal this season.
Sophomore Brooke Lampe only played 27 minutes but officially recorded North Texas' only two shots Monday.
The first came at the end of the first half when the Mean Green regained possession from SCU and inserted fresh legs, such as Lampe, in the final five minutes of the half. In the 45th minute, Lampe got a relatively decent look but missed wide. Her next shot wouldn't come until the 87th minute when she quickly turned and fired wide again.
Santa Clara's best offensive opportunities came in the second half.
A foul by UNT roughly 24 yards out set up a free kick for the Broncos, which they tried to sneakingly quickly catch the Mean Green off guard and chip it in while they were setting up their wall. But a miss directed shot that hit a UNT defender blocked the shot.
It wasn't until the penalty in the box that finally got the Santa Clara offense through the Mean Green defense.