Spartans prepare for final weekend of regular-season play 10-20-2011

UNCG at Western Carolina, Oct. 21, 7 p.m., Cullowhee, N.C.

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UNCG vs. Appalachian State, Oct. 23, 2 p.m., UNCG Soccer Stadium

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- UNCG's women's soccer team will play its final regular-season road contest Friday at Western Carolina before returning home for Sunday's bout with Appalachian State as the Spartans try to lock up first-round hosting duties for the upcoming Southern Conference tournament.

- The Spartans need just one more win to assure themselves of a home game in the first round. With a 6-1-1 league mark (7-7-1 overall), UNCG has earned 19 points in the standings thus far. One win in the final three games will guarantee UNCG of finishing no worse than a tie for fourth with Furman, and the Spartans would hold the tiebreaker with the Paladins for the fourth seed because of their head-to-head win. The top four teams in the final regular-season standings will host first-round tournament games on Oct. 30. The semifinals and final will be Nov. 4 and 6 in Greensboro.

- Friday's contest will serve as Western Carolina's Homecoming match, while Sunday's match is UNCG's pink game to raise awareness for breast cancer.

- UNCG reached the .500 mark last weekend, tying Wofford 1-1 and beating Furman 1-0. UNCG has posted a dramatic turnaround after a 1-6-0 start in nonconference play.

- The Spartans' RPI of 66 is up one spot from last week and remains the top mark in the SoCon. Samford is second at 79, up 21 spots from last week.

- In UNCG's 1-0 win over Furman on Oct. 16, Lauren Hein headed in the game-winner in the 106th minute as the Spartans played their second straight double overtime game. Karin Sendel and Kristin Player picked up assists on the play. Keeper Kelsey Kearney had four saves for her second shutout of the season.

- After facing a nonconference slate that included four Atlantic Coast Conference teams, two Southeastern Conference teams and four ranked squads, UNCG is happy to be settling into SoCon play. Since 2003, the Spartans are 79-9-5 in league action.

- Entering the weekend, Player has 21 points on seven goals and a SoCon-best seven assists, all team highs. Sendel is second in scoring with nine points on two goals and five assists, while Hein is third with eight points on three goals and two assists. Kearney has logged 1,340 minutes in the net for the Spartans thus far, turning in a 1.81 goals against average. Her 0.89 mark in league games is fourth in the SoCon.

- Player enters play this weekend as the SoCon's active career leader in points (84), goals (31) and assists (22) and is in the top 10 in school history in all three categories. With 19 points on seven goals and five assists in SoCon games, Player leads the league in all three categories in conference games.

- 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 0.85 mark – good for third place in SoCon history. Now up to 33 career shutouts, she needs four more to become the SoCon's career leader in that category. She is the SoCon's active career leader with 52 wins.

- With 6,653:23 of work between the pipes to her credit, Kearney is just three seconds away from becoming UNCG's career leader in minutes played for a keeper. Kathryn Clewley played 6,653:25 from 1998-2001.

- UNCG is 13-2-2 against Western Carolina all-time.  The series began in 1999 with a 2-0 UNCG win, while the Catamounts got their first win in the series two years later. The Spartans have won two straight over Western and have not lost in the last 11 matches between the two squads (9-0-2).

- Cullowhee, N.C., has been good to the Spartans. In addition to holding a 6-1-0 record over the Catamounts there, UNCG has won a pair of SoCon tournaments on Western Carolina's home field and is 10-1-0 there all-time. The Spartans won tournaments there in 2006 and 2010.

- Cat Barnekow and Tabitha Padgett scored first-half goals in last season's meeting as UNCG took a 2-0 win on Oct. 21, 2010. With the win, UNCG locked up at least a share of its fifth straight regular-season SoCon title. UNCG's defense dominated the game, allowing just one Western Carolina shot.

- Western Carolina got off to an 8-3-1 start to the year but has lost its last four contests, scoring just one goal in the four matches. After a 3-1-0 SoCon start, the Catamounts are now 3-5-0, eighth in the league standings. Western has been shut out in its last three matches.

- In its last outing, Western Carolina fell to Samford, 1-0 on Oct. 16.

- Samantha Hodge has 13 points on four goals and five assists, all team highs. Laura Greb shares the team lead with four goals and is second in points with 10. Katie Jacobs has posted a 1.31 GAA with 61 saves and three shutouts in 1,377 minutes of work.

- UNCG is 15-1-0 all-time against Appalachian State and has won 10 straight over the Mountaineers in a series that dates to 1997. The Spartans are 9-0-0 against App all-time in Greensboro, with the Mountaineers' lone win coming in Boone, N.C., in 2002. Eleven of UNCG's wins over App have come via shutout.

- Kristen Schmidbauer's goal in the 62nd minute was all UNCG needed in last season's 1-0 win over the Apps, on Oct. 24, 2010. Kearney had three saves in the shutout, while App's Caroline Clarke had 12.

- Appalachian State, which hosts Elon on Thursday in its final home game of the season, brings a 5-9-2 overall record and a 1-5-2 SoCon mark into this weekend's action. The Mountaineers' 1-1 draw with Chattanooga on Oct. 16 snapped a three-match losing streak. App is 1-5-2 since a 3-2 win over High Point on Sept. 18, but seven of those eight games were decided by one goal or fewer, including a 2-1 loss to SoCon-leading Samford in double overtime on Oct. 14.

- Entering the weekend, Julia Holz leads the Apps in scoring with 10 points on five goals, also a team-best. Katy Dodd is second with nine points on four goals and one assist. Sydney Hill has a team-best six assists on the season. Amy Kolowsky has played every minute in goal for the Mountaineers so far this season and has a 1.41 GAA to go along with 82 saves and four shutouts.

- UNCG -

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