UNCG to host Georgia Southern in SoCon first round Sunday
No. 2 seed UNCG (8-9-1) vs. No. 7 seed Georgia Southern (6-10-2)
Oct. 30, 2 p.m., UNCG Soccer Stadium
Southern Conference Championship quarterfinal round
Video: Spartan All Access
- Defending champion UNCG opens play at the Southern Conference Women's Soccer Championship with a quarterfinal-round match against seventh-seeded Georgia Southern at the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m. The second-seeded Spartans are vying for their eighth SoCon tournament title.
- The Spartans are 26-6-3 all-time in the SoCon Championship, winning titles in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2010 and posting runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2008. UNCG is 11-1-1 all-time in the quarterfinal round, with the only loss coming to Georgia Southern (2-1) in 1999 and the draw coming against Davidson (1-1) in 2002. UNCG is 10-4-1 in SoCon tournament play at home.
- UNCG has met Georgia Southern in the SoCon tournament just once, with the Eagles taking that 2-1 win in 1999. Overall, the Spartans lead the series 13-3-0, including a 2-1 win in Statesboro, Ga., on Sept. 30. In that contest, Kristin Player scored in the 76th minute to counter Courtney Collins' 48th-minute goal and Nitang Jones scored in the 88th minute to complete the UNCG rally.
- In last season's tournament, top-seeded UNCG didn't allow a goal in picking up its seventh SoCon tournament title. The Spartans picked up a 1-0 win over Wofford in the quarterfinal round on Kristen Schmidbauer's goal, while Lauren Hein scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Elon in the semifinals. Schmidbauer notched her second game-winner of the tournament in the final as UNCG downed second-seeded Samford 1-0. Keeper Kelsey Kearney was named the tournament's MVP, while Hein, Morgan Kennedy and Jenn Partenheimer joined her on the all-tournament team.
- UNCG finished the regular season with an 8-9-1 overall record and a 7-3-1 mark in SoCon play. The Spartans tied College of Charleston for second in the league standings but won the tiebreaker for the second seed on the strength of a 2-1 win over the Cougars on Oct. 9.
- Last time out, Elon played spoiler on UNCG's Senior Day, picking up its first-ever win over the Spartans, 1-0 on Wednesday. The loss was UNCG's second in a row after a seven-match unbeaten streak, giving UNCG its first two-game losing streak in league play since 2002.
- The Spartans have entered the SoCon tournament coming off a loss just five times in school history, but have gone 3-1-1 in their opening game in that scenario. This season will be just the second in which UNCG brings a streak of consecutive losses into the tournament. The Spartans lost three straight to end the regular season in 1999.
- After sitting out last season, Player has returned with a vengeance this year. The redshirt senior has 25 points on eight goals and a SoCon-best nine assists, all team highs, while the 25 points match the career high she set as a freshman in 2007. Karin Sendel is second on the team in scoring with nine points on two goals and five assists, while Lauren Hein and Ashley Stokes are tied for third with eight points on three goals and two assists each. Keeper Kelsey Kearney has logged 1,519 minutes in the net for the Spartans thus far, turning in a 1.66 goals against average. Her 0.81 mark in league games is second in the SoCon.
- Player enters play Sunday as the SoCon's active career leader in points (88), goals (32) and assists (24) and is in the top 10 in school history in all three categories. With 23 points on eight goals and seven assists in SoCon games, Player lead the league in points and assists and was second in goals in conference matches.
- Kearney, a three-time All-SoCon selection (first team, 2008 and 2010), is UNCG's career leader in goals against average, as she has posted a 0.84 mark – good for third place in SoCon history. Now up to 34 career shutouts, she needs three more to become the SoCon's career leader in that category. She is the SoCon's active career leader with 53 wins. The Durham, N.C., native is also UNCG's leader in career minutes played with 6,831:44.
- Georgia Southern is 7-10-0 all-time in SoCon tournament play, with a 4-2-0 record in the quarterfinal round. The Eagles were regulars in the semifinal round in the early years of the tournament, making it at least that far every year from 1994-99 and again in 2001. Since a quarterfinal-round exit in 2002, GSU has made just one appearance in the tournament, winning a quarterfinal-round game in 2006 before falling in the semis. Georgia Southern lost in the title match in 1994 and 1996.
- This season, GSU went 6-10-2 in regular-season play and 4-6-1 in conference play. The Eagles lost their last two games and three of their last four. After the 2-1 loss to UNCG on Sept. 30, GSU won a season-best three straight.
- The Eagles closed the regular season with a 2-0 loss at Davidson on Wednesday and have been shut out in two straight matches.
- Collins is GSU's leading scorer with 14 points on a team-best seven goals and one assist. Sara Oland is second with 13 points on three goals and a team-best seven assists, while Alex Murphy is third on the team with 12 points on six goals. Keeper Katie Merson has turned in a 1.21 GAA in 1,265 minutes over 15 matches, posting an .800 save percentage. Her four shutouts are tied for second-most in the league.
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