Spartans welcome ECU to kick off 2010 regular season
UNCG (0-0-0) vs. East Carolina (0-0-0), Aug. 20, 7 p.m., UNCG Soccer Stadium
- Four-time defending Southern Conference regular-season champion UNCG officially opens the 2010 season Friday, when it hosts Conference USA's East Carolina at 7 p.m. at UNCG Soccer Stadium.
- Despite only being located about two and a half hours apart, UNCG and East Carolina have never faced each other in women's soccer action.
- UNCG is 10-12 in season-openers, with eight of those losses have come against ACC and SEC foes. The Spartans are 4-7 all-time against C-USA's current membership, including a 1-0 win over Memphis in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2007 – UNCG's last meeting against a C-USA team. UNCG has opened against a C-USA team just once, when it faced former league member Charlotte to open the 1998 campaign.
- UNCG is 6-3 when opening on a Friday. Including this season, the Spartans have opened on a Friday in nine of the last 11 years.
- The Spartans, who have won the SoCon regular season in four straight seasons and five of the last six, were picked to repeat as champions in the preseason poll released by the league Wednesday. UNCG was picked first on nine of the 12 league coaches' ballots. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team or players.
- Four Spartans earned spots on the preseason All-SoCon squad, led by reigning SoCon Co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year Tabitha Padgett. Also selected were Jenn Partenheimer (first team, 2009), Cat Barnekow (second team, 2009) and Nicole Danford (second team, 2008).
- UNCG went 1-1 in its two preseason exhibition matches, topping High Point 4-1 and falling to Duke 1-0. The Blue Devils are ranked 24th in Soccer America's Preseason Top 25.
- The Spartans went 13-7-0 overall and 9-2-0 in the SoCon in 2009, running its league-record unbeaten streak in regular-season contests to 33 matches before the senior class suffered its first-ever SoCon loss.
- Padgett scored a team-best eight goals in 2009 and was UNCG's second-leading scorer with 19 points overall. Overall, the Spartans bring back five of their top six scorers from last season. Lauren Hein was third on the squad with 14 points on five goals and four assists as a freshman last year.
- UNCG returns four 2009 All-Southern Conference players in first-teamers Padgett and Partenheimer and second-teamers Barnekow and Kelsey Kearney. Padgett and Hein also earned spots on the All-Freshman Team.
- The Spartans return 14 student-athletes from last season's squad, including six of their top eight scorers. Six starters – Padgett, Partenheimer, Barnekow, Kearney, Casey Godwin and Katie Evans – return. Also returning are Hein, Danford, Katie Durst, Jessi Gulledge, Jaimey Etten, Stephanie Partenheimer, Alex Perry and Jen Rincon.
- UNCG welcomes eight newcomers to the fold this season. Morgan Kennedy, Lauren Lover, Kaytee O'Brien, Jenna Olson, Kristen Schmidbauer, Stine Schoening, Kory Spotts and Ashlee Wilhelmsen join the squad as freshmen.
- Spots, Schoening and Kennedy started both of UNCG's exhibition matches in the Spartans' revamped defense.
- Kearney, a two-time All-SoCon selection (first team, 2008) enters the season as UNCG's career leader in goals against average, as she has posted a 0.64 mark in her first two seasons. She is also tied for fourth in shutouts (19) and is sixth in saves (127) and minutes (3,361:05).
- Gone are all-conference players Lauren Lopez, Jen Bronson and Kristin Player. Lopez was one of 10 national finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in 2009 and was named a second-team All-American by the organization.
- East Carolina tied Virginia Commonwealth, 1-1, in its lone exhibition. Tricia Tufts scored the Pirates' lone goal in the 38th minute. That lead stood for the duration of regulation, but the teams had decided prior to the game to play two 10-minute overtime periods, regardless of score. VCU got the equalizer in the 103rd minute.
- The Pirates went 9-7-3 overall in 2009, including a 4-6-1 mark in C-USA to tie for eighth in the league. ECU returns its top seven scorers from last season, including Amanda Malkiewicz, who led the team with 16 points on six goals and four assists, and Bailey Wilcox, who had 15 points on a team-best seven goals and an assist. Chrissy Gratz and Rachel Wechsler, who shared the team lead with five assists each, also return.
- Also returning is keeper Berit Hansen, who started eight matches and posted a team-best 1.08 goals against average with a team-high 57 saves as a freshman last season. She posted a 7-2-1 mark as the keeper of record.
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