Men’s soccer hosts SoCon leader Georgia Southern on Tuesday
GREENSBORO, N.C.—UNCG men's soccer closes out the Southern Conference portion of its home schedule when the Spartans host league-leading Georgia Southern in a match curcial to both teams' championship hopes, 7 p.m., Tuesday at UNCG Soccer Stadium.
The match has serious championship implications for both teams, as the top three teams in the SoCon are separated by just two points in the standings. Georgia Southern (8-6-1 overall, 4-2-0 SoCon) can inch closer to clinching the conference title with a victory while the Spartans (6-7-1, 3-1-1) need wins in their final two matches plus a loss or tie by second-place Appalachian State in its final two outings to finish on top.
The Eagles enter Tuesday's match boasting SoCon points and goals leader Luigi Clendening. Through 15 matches Clendening owns 13 goals and five assists for 31 points. But he isn't the only goal scorer on the squad as Witt Carlisle owns six goals and Hunter Norton has added four scores.
Georgia Southern goalkeeper Ryan Platt owns a 1.51 goals-against average. He made five saves in GSU's 4-2 win at Elon last Friday.
Junior Hakan Ilhan leads the Spartans and ranks just behind Clendening in goals (7), and also leads UNCG in assists (3) and points (17), while junior goalkeeper Peyton Ford ranks second in the SoCon with a 0.73 goals-against average. Ford's five shutouts rank fourth in the conference.
Ford continued his outstanding play in last Saturday's 1-0 win at College of Charleston, making seven saves in earning his fifth shutout of the season. He enters Tuesday's match having allowed just three goals over his last 669 minutes for a 0.40 goals-against average in that span. In SoCon play Ford has allowed just one goal in 470 minutes (0.19 gaa).
• Head coach Justin Maullin is 18-13-5 (.569) in his second season with the Spartans, including 7-2-3 (.708) in SoCon games
• Tuesday's match is the 22nd meeting in the series between the Spartans and the Eagles, with UNCG holding a 17-1-3 advantage in the series. The Spartans won both meetings last season, taking a 6-1 decision during the regular season in Statesboro, Ga., and a 2-1 overtime victory in the opening round of the SoCon Tournament in Greensboro.
• The Spartans are 0-2-1 in their last three home matches and haven't won in Greensboro since a 2-0 win over then-No. 23 Furman on Oct. 1
• Junior goalkeeper Peyton Ford earned his 14th career shutout last Saturday at College of Charleston, tying current assistant coach Jay Benfield (2001-05) for second on the school's all-time list, which is also tops in UNCG's Division I era. Tim Borer (1982-83) owns the overall career mark of 26 shutouts.
• Benfield was the last Spartan keeper to post a sub-1.00 goals-against average, finishing the 2005 season at 0.83. Ford is on pace to best the UNCG Division I-era record.