GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG women’s soccer team faces No. 1 seed Duke in Durham in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and can be accessed on the WatchESPN app for mobile devices. Links will be available at www.uncgspartans.com.
The match marks the 19th appearance in school history against Duke. The Spartans own a 5-13-0 record against the Blue Devils, including 1-8-0 in Durham. The lone road win for UNCG came in the only NCAA Tournament match against Duke, a 2-1 overtime victory on Nov. 16, 1997. Duke won the last meeting 2-0 on Sept. 11, 2011 at home. The Spartans won the previous meeting 1-0 at the Carolina Nike Classic in Chapel Hill on Aug. 28, 2009.
This is will be the 10th trip to the NCAA tournament for the Spartans and the first since the 2010 season. UNCG has won four games in the nine appearances: 2-1 over Wake Forest in 2003, 3-2 (2OT) against William & Mary in 2000 and twice in 1997 (5-0 at home versus South Alabama in the play-in game and the 2-1 win at Duke). Overall UNCG is 2-5-0 against ACC schools in the tournament.
The Spartans enter Saturday’s match with an 11-7-3 overall record. UNCG earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by defeating fourth-seeded Western Carolina 1-0 last Sunday afternoon at the Samford Track and Soccer Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.
The Spartans scored the game’s lone goal in the 54th minute of play off of one of their seven corner kicks. Senior defender Regan Lehman (Wilmington, Del./Padua Academy) took the corner kick and sent the ball towards the back post. Junior defender Emily Jensen (Nelson, New Zealand/Santa Clara) rose above three Western Carolina defenders and rammed a header off the post and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead and her fifth goal of the season.
UNCG’s defense did the rest along with freshman goalkeeper Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper (Charlottesville, Va./Albermarle) keeping the Catamounts at distance for most of the game. Tyler-Cooper posted seven saves in her eighth shutout of the season and helped keep WCU at bay as the Catamounts posted a 20-7 advantage in shots in the loss.
The victory improved UNCG to 8-2-0 mark in all-time in championship game history. The Spartans’ eight tournament titles are the most for any team in the history of the SoCon Tournament, now two more than Furman. Sunday’s victory marks UNCG’s first title since 2010 when the Spartans advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 victory over Samford in Cullowhee.
Lehman was named the SoCon Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Spartans’ defense to two shutouts and just one goal against in 281:12 minutes of play in tournament action in addition to her assist on the game-winning goal against Western Carolina.
UNCG placed four on the All-Tournament Team with Jensen, sophomore forward/midfielder Cienna Rideout (Las Vegas, Nev./Coronado) and junior midfielder Heida Ragney Vidarsdottir (Akureyri, Iceland/Carson-Newman) joining Lehman on the team.
Rideout was named the General Shale Southern Conference Student-Athlete of the Week for her performance over the last weekend. She scored two goals in UNCG’s semifinal upset at No. 2-seed Samford Friday. She notched the game-tying goal in the 73rd minute and volleyed home the game-winner in double overtime to advance the Spartans to the Southern Conference Championship final.
An information and supply chain management major, Rideout holds a 3.79 grade point average.
Rideout has scored six of her team-high seven goals, including three game-winners, in the last four games. She scored a hat trick against Citadel (Oct. 22), one versus No. 6 seeded Chattanooga (Oct. 28) in the quarterfinals and the two at Samford.
UNCG enters Sunday’s match playing its best soccer at the right time of the season. The Spartans are unbeaten in the last seven matches and have won six-straight entering the NCAA Tournament, outscoring opponents 11-1 in those six matches. To close out the regular season UNCG defeated VMI and Mercer 1-0 and The Citadel 4-0, all at home. In the Southern Conference Tournament UNCG pitched two shutouts, 2-0 at home against No. 6 seed Chattanooga and 1-0 against Western Carolina in the final, sandwiched around the 2-1 double-overtime win against the host school Samford.
Duke goes into the match with a 19-2-0 record and won all 10 ACC games this season. The only two losses came to UNC in the first game of the season and then in the ACC Tournament Championship Game. The Blue Devils have been dominant across the board this season, leading the conference and standing top 15 nationally in total goals (45), goals against average (.472) and shutout percentage (.619). They are also tops in the conference in save percentage with an .831 clip and posted a perfect 11-0-0 record on their home field, Koskinen Stadim.
Duke will be led by its league-high nine All-ACC selections, including offensive player of the year senior forward/midfielder Imani Dorsey, defensive player of the year senior defender/forward Schuyler DeBree and midfielder of the year redshirt-senior Rebecca Quinn. Senior goalkeeper EJ Proctor and junior forward Kayla McCoy also reeled in All-ACC First Team honors along with Dorsey, DeBree and Quinn. Sophomore midfielder/forward Ella Stevens and junior midfielder Taylor Racioppi were named All-ACC Second Team, while senior midfielder/forward Ashton Miller (Third Team) and defender/midfielder Taylor Mitchell (Freshman) rounded out the list.
Leading the offensive charge has been a collection of 10 goal scorers, with McCoy (11 goals, six assists, 28 points) and Dorsey (10 goals, seven assists, 27 points) headlining the Blue Devil attack. As a team, Duke has posted 13 shutouts, three short of tying the school record. Proctor has accounted for 10 solo clean sheets, which is 12th in the nation. Her .441 goals against average is tops in the ACC and ninth nationally.
The winner of Saturday’s matchup will move on to the second round to face the winner of Missouri State (10-9-1) and Oklahoma State (16-3-2).
-- UNCG --