UNCG continues road swing at Samford on Sunday
UNCG (6-1-1, 1-0-0 SoCon) at Samford (4-4-1, 0-1-0 SoCon), Sept. 26, 3 p.m. Eastern, Birmingham, Ala.
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- UNCG will try to run its win streak to four games Sunday when it takes on Samford in a battle of the preseason Southern Conference favorites.
- Sunday's contest will be a battle of the top two teams in the SoCon preseason poll. The Spartans were picked to win the league, earning nine first-place votes and 117 points. Samford was picked second, with two first-place votes and 107 total points.
- UNCG is 0-1-1 against Samford all-time, making the Bulldogs the only SoCon team to have a winning record against the Spartans. UNCG and Samford played to a scoreless draw in Birmingham, Ala., in 2008, the Bulldogs' first season in the league. Samford took a 2-1 win over the Spartans last season in Greensboro.
- The last time these two squads met was Oct. 16, 2009, when Samford took the 2-1 win at UNCG Soccer Stadium, snapping the Spartans' 22-match unbeaten streak over SoCon opponents at home. Tabitha Padgett gave UNCG an early lead with an 11th-minute goal, knocking in the rebound of her own saved shot for her seventh goal of the season. The Bulldogs answered in the 21st minute, with Leah Leppert converting passes from Amber Cress and Natalie Fleming to knot the score at 1. Cress scored just 42 seconds into the second half to make it a 2-1 game, and keeper Alyssa Whitehead did the rest, keeping UNCG off the board the rest of the way.
- UNCG is off to one of the best starts in its 23-year program history. At 6-1-1, the Spartans have just one loss through their first eight games for just the third time in school history. The last UNCG team to have just one loss through eight contests was the 1997 squad, which opened the season 7-1-0 and went on to set a school record with 19 wins on the season. The 1991 team got off to the best start in school history, opening 9-1-0.
- UNCG was undefeated through its first four games for the first time ever.
- After opening the season with wins over East Carolina, then-No. 10 Wake Forest and Utah, the Spartans jumped into the Soccer America Top 25 at No. 18 on Aug. 30, good for their first national ranking since being No. 13 in the Soccer Buzz preseason poll in 1998. UNCG fell from the rankings after going 0-1-1 at the Under Armour Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., but is still receiving votes in the NSCAA and Soccer Times polls. UNCG played Southern Cal, which was unranked at the time but now appears in the top 25 of all three polls, to a scoreless draw out in California.
- UNCG won a wild game at Chattanooga to open SoCon play Friday, scoring a season-high five goals in a 5-2 win. With UNCG holding a 2-1 lead late in the second half, freshman Stine Schoening scored her first career goal to start a string of three Spartan goals in a span of just 4:34. Jessi Gulledge notched her second career goal just 4:06 after Schoening's strike, and Jenn Partenheimer made it a 5-1 game just 28 seconds after that. Chattanooga got in on the scoring, too, getting a goal 1:30 later to make it a combined four goals in 6:04 of game time. Freshman Kristen Schmidbauer scored for the second straight game for UNCG's first goal, while Jaimey Etten also had a first-half score for the Spartans.
-Lauren Hein leads UNCG with seven points on three goals and an assist on the season, while Padgett and Partenheimer share second with six points each. Cat Barnekow has a team-best four assists. Keeper Kelsey Kearney has played all but 21 minutes in goal this season, posting a goals against average of 0.88 and a save percentage of .794 in 719:03. She has turned in three shutouts and allowed just seven goals in eight games.
- With her three shutouts this season, Kearney is now up to 22 in her career, good for second on UNCG's career list. Kearney, a junior, now trails school-record holder Jennifer Stillman by three. Kearney is also UNCG's career leader in GAA, as she holds a mark of 0.68 in 46 matches played.
- Of UNCG's 15 goals scored thus far this season, 11 of them have come from underclassmen. Sophomores Hein (three), Padgett (two) and Gulledge (two) account for seven, while freshmen Schmidbauer (two), Schoening (one) and Kory Spotts (one) account for four. Partenheimer, a senior, has scored three, while junior Etten (one) has the only other goal by an upperclassman.
- Samford is 4-4-1, 0-1-0 in the SoCon, having dropped its league opener Friday night to Elon, 1-0. The Phoenix got a goal in the 79th minute to snap the Bulldogs' 28-match home unbeaten streak, which dated back just over three years. Samford had its scoring chances and outshot Elon 11-7, but saw two shots go off the crossbar.
- Samford had won four straight before dropping a 2-0 decision to Auburn on Sept. 17. The contest was a scoreless affair until the Tigers got a pair of goals in the final five minutes of play. Auburn was unranked at the time, but had appeared in the Soccer Times poll the week prior and entered the Soccer America poll at No. 25 the week after the win.
- The Bulldogs have not scored in a span of 219:05, stretching back to a goal in the 51st minute in a 2-0 win over Tennessee Tech on Sept. 12.
- Sunday's contest wraps up a stretch of seven home games in their last eight contests for the Bulldogs. Samford's lone road game in the month of September was the loss at Auburn.
- Katie Proud, Kaley Blanton and Hilary Samuels share Samford's team scoring lead with five points each. Proud and Blanton have a team-best two goals each, while Samuels leads the squad with three assists. All-SoCon keeper Alyssa Whitehead has played every minute in goal for the Bulldogs, posting a 1.08 GAA and four shutouts in 830 of work. She has allowed 10 goals in nine games and amassed an .815 save percentage.
- UNCG and Samford are 2-3 in the conference in team GAA, with the Spartans boasting a 0.75 mark and Samford a 1.08 mark. Kearney is second individually at 0.88, while Whitehead is fourth at 1.08. The Bulldogs and Whithead share the SoCon lead with four shutouts. Whitehead's .815 save percentage is second in the league. UNCG's Barnekow is fourth in the league in assists.
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