GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG women’s soccer makes its 10th Southern Conference Tournament championship game appearance Sunday afternoon as the third-seeded Spartans battle fourth-seeded Western Carolina at 2 p.m. at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium in Birmingham, Ala. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ESPN App with links available at www.uncgspartans.com.
The winner of Sunday’s SoCon Championship game will earn the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. UNCG has won the SoCon Tournament seven times in program history, posting a 7-2-0 mark in championship game history. The Spartans’ seven tournament titles are the most for any team in the history of the SoCon Tournament. Sunday’s game marks UNCG’s first appearance in the title game since 2010 when the Spartans advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 victory over Samford in Cullowhee.
Sunday’s game marks the third time that UNCG and Western Carolina will meet in the SoCon Tournament Championship game. The Spartans posted a 2-1 double overtime victory over the Catamounts in the 2001 tournament in Greenville while Western Carolina won the title in 2008 in Mt. Pleasant on penalty kicks. The teams battled through a scoreless tie in 2008 before the Catamounts advanced 2-0 on penalty kicks.
The Spartans enter the SoCon Tournament Finals with a 10-7-3 overall record and a 5-2-2 mark in league play. UNCG has won five-straight entering Sunday’s game and is 5-0-1 in its last six games. The Spartans advanced to the championship game after posting a come-from-behind double overtime victory over SoCon regular season co-champion and host Samford 2-1 Friday night.
The Spartans have scored 23 goals in 20 games this season while allowing 23 goals against. Sophomore forward Cienna Rideout (Las Vegas, Nev./Coronado) leads the team in scoring with seven goals and two assists. Rideout has scored six goals in the last three games, posting three in the regular season finale against The Citadel, one against Chattanooga in the quarterfinal round and two in the semifinal upset win over No. 2 Samford. She scored in the 73rd minute Friday to tie the game at 1-1 and tallied the game-winning goal in the 102nd minute of play.
Junior defender Emily Jensen (Nelson, New Zealand/Santa Clara), a First Team All-SoCon selection, is second on the team in scoring with 10 points. Jensen has scored four goals and posted two assists from her defensive position. Senior Regan Lehman (Wilmington, Del./Padua Academy) is third on the team in scoring with three goals and two assists.
Freshman goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper (Charlottesville, Va./Albermarle) has played 1657:47 in goal and owns a 0.98 goals against average. Tyler-Cooper has posted a .833 save percentage on the year while posting seven shutouts, including four in league play.
Sunday’s game marks the 26th meeting between UNCG and Western Carolina. The Spartans hold a commanding 19-3-3 record all-time against the Catamounts. UNCG is 11-1-2 over the last 14 meetings with Western Carolina, including a 2-2 double overtime tie earlier this year in Greensboro. The wild game saw three goals in the second half be scored in a span of 1:31 of play after the Spartans had a 1-0 halftime lead. WCU tied the game in the 50th minute with a goal by Megan McCallister before UNCG retook the lead at 2-1 on an own goal in the 51st minute. The Catamounts tied the game back up in the 52nd minute on a goal by Deyana Walker.
Western Carolina enters Sunday’s game with a 9-9-2 overall record as the Catamounts upset top-seeded and SoCon co-champion Furman 2-0 Friday evening. Western Carolina has won four-straight games with wins over Wofford, ETSU, VMI and the Paladins. The Catamounts have scored 33 goals in 20 games this year while allowing 28 goals against.
McCallister leads the Catamounts in scoring with 26 points, scoring a team-high 10 goals and dishing out six assists. Emily Threatt has scored seven goals and handed out an assist while Sayres McKenna has posted four goals and six assists. Jacquelyn Gnassi has played 1333:55 in goal and owns a 1.15 goals against average. Gnassi recorded 10 saves in the Catamounts’ win over the Paladins.
-- UNCG --