GREENSBORO, N.C. - UNCG women's soccer clinches a No. 3 seed in this year's Southern Conference Championship tournament on Sunday, defeating visiting ETSU by a final of 2-0 to close out the regular season. Honoring midfielder Grace Kennedy, defender Marissa Ferrantino and forwards Cienna Rideout and Grace Regal in the Spartans' annual senior day celebration, Head Coach Michael Coll's side secured their graduating class a win in the shutout effort, with goals from Kaley Tucker and Kayla Campbell.
"It means a lot," said Kennedy after the match. "Just my team backing us up and trying to get a win for us, to make us all happy"
"It was just a real team effort today," continued her teammate Grace Regal. "We all just worked really hard together, it was a great win."
"It's so special that they [this graduating class] have gotten to the NCAA Tournament twice already," said Coach Coll after the match. "More than 90 percent of student-athletes, regardless of male or female and regardless of the sport, will never reach the NCAA Tournament, and this senior class has experienced it twice out of three times already, and they are going to try and get a third."
Both sides were early to pull the trigger on the afternoon, as the two teams combined for 14 attempts at net in the opening 45 minutes. The Spartans and Bucs would each have big scoring chances in the early stages, before redshirt-junior Kaley Tucker broke the scoreless draw in the 42nd.
Setting herself up as a target inside the 18, Rideout settled down a long ball from Maddy Gilhool to fellow striker Nicole Souply on her first touch. Souply would go on to lay a ball off for an open Tucker near the top of the 18, with the midfielder tucking away her second of the season into the bottom left corner, off the hands of the outstretched ETSU keeper.
Taking a 1-0 advantage into the second half, sophomore defender Kayla Campbell doubled her team's lead in the 65th, hitting the back of the net for the fifth time this year on a corner opportunity. The Texas-native beat her mark just inside the six-yard box to head in the cross from freshman Gabi Santora, putting the home side ahead 2-0 and providing the Spartans a bit of insurance in the final third of the match.
UNCG keeper Abby Buchholz would make a pair of impressive saves on the afternoon to secure her fourth complete-game clean sheet, including a diving stop off a set piece header from the Bucs in the 71st. Her team's shutout is its fourth in conference play this season, and the sixth shutout win the Spartans have experienced in 2019.
With a SoCon record of 7-2-0, UNCG ties with Mercer for the third spot in the league table, but own the tiebreaker on their 2-0 defeat of the Bears back on September 29th. As the No. 3 seed, Coach Coll and company will play No. 6 Chattanooga in the conference quarterfinals this next Sunday, November 3rd, with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m.
Three Things To Know
-- After already clinching home field advantage in the SoCon quarterfinals on Friday, the Spartans will play the entire conference tournament at home these next two weeks. They have not lost at UNCG Soccer Stadium since September 12th
-- Campbell's goal gives the Spartan defender five finishes on the season, placing her behind only forward Cienna Rideout for a team-high (6). All of her goals have come off set pieces this year
-- With yet another shutout victory in conference play, the Spartans own a .89 goals against average when playing Southern Conference teams, while Buchholz' save percentage sits at .789 during that stretch
COMING UP NEXT
The Spartans will rematch with the Mocs next Sunday after defeating the side 2-1 in Chattanooga earlier this year. They are currently on a 16-match unbeaten streak against UTC, and have not lost to the side in Greensboro since 2002.
-- UNCG –