No. 1 seed Spartans to face No. 5 Elon in SoCon semis on Friday
No. 1 seed UNCG (17-1-1) vs. No. 5 seed Elon (12-7-1), Nov. 5, 5 p.m., Cullowhee, N.C., SoCon semifinals
Video: SoCon.TV ($6.95 semifinals package; $12.95 tournament package)
- Top-seeded and 14th-ranked UNCG will face No. 5 seed Elon for the second time in nine days when the teams battle in the semifinal round of the Southern Conference Championship in Cullowhee, N.C., on Friday.
- The Spartans are 24-6-3 all-time in the SoCon Championship, winning titles in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006 and posting runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2008. UNCG is 7-4-1 all-time in the semifinal round, with losses in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2009 and the tie in 2008 (UNCG advanced on penalty kicks). Since joining the league in 1997, the Spartans have appeared in the semis in each year but 1999.
- UNCG has faced Elon in the tournament twice, winning both matches. The teams met in the quarterfinal round both times, with the Spartans taking a 4-0 win in 2006 and a 1-0 win in 2007.
- Eight Spartans earned SoCon postseason honors, highlighted by a league-best five players on the All-SoCon First team. Tabitha Padgett, Cat Barnekow, Jenn Partenheimer, Katie Evans and Kelsey Kearney all earned first-team honors, while freshman Kristen Schmidbauer claimed a spot on the second team. Schmidbauer, Stine Schoening and Morgan Kennedy also earned spots on the All-Freshman Team.
- The Spartans dropped Wofford at home on Sunday, 1-0, in the opening round of the SoCon Championship. UNCG's All-Freshman trio propelled the Spartans to the win, as Schoening took a corner kick that Kennedy headed to Schmidbauer, who scored it from close range in the ninth minute. UNCG outshot the Terriers 17-2 and Wofford never really threatened on the offensive end. Kearney and the UNCG defense picked up their 10th shutout of the season as the Spartans improved to 11-1-1 all-time in the SoCon quarterfinal round.
- With UNCG's win over Wofford on Sunday, the Spartans finished the season 9-0-0 at home, good for the first undefeated home slate in school history.
- The Spartans have won a school-record 14 straight games, eclipsing the previous record of 12 set in 2007. The winning streak is just the third of 10 games or more in school history, all of which have come in the last four seasons. UNCG's winning streak is also the third-longest active streak in the nation and trails only active streaks by No. 19 Hofstra (17 straight) and No. 1 Stanford (15). UNCG has also matched the school record for the longest unbeaten streak, which was set in 2006 and matched in 2008.
Active winning streaks
No. 17 Hofstra – 17 matches (next game Friday)
No. 1 Stanford – 15 (next game Friday)
No. 14 UNCG – 14 (next game Friday)
No. 13 UC Irvine – 13 (next game Thursday)
No. 15 Denver – 13 (next game Thursday)
No. 22 Boston U. – 12 (next game Saturday)
No. 8 Marquette – 12 (next game Friday)
- UNCG's senior class of Evans, Partenheimer and Jen Rincon made history Sunday. The class set a school record for wins in a four-year span with its 62nd victory. The trio improved to 62-17-5 in their careers, surpassing the win total put up by the 1998 seniors, who went 61-26-2. This year's class is far and away the best in school history in terms of winning percentage, as its .768 mark is 59 points higher than the previous school record of .709 turned in by the 1997 class. The 2010 class is also guaranteed of finishing with the fewest losses in school history for a four-year span, as the worst it can do at this point is 19 (17 plus one in the SoCon tournament and one in the NCAA tournament, should the Spartans get an at-large bid if they lose in the SoCon tournament). The previous record was 23, set by 1997 class.
- At 17-1-1, UNCG is off to the best start in the program's 23-year history. The 1991 squad previously held that distinction, opening 9-1-0 before dropping its next game. The Spartans are fourth in the nation with a .921 winning percentage, trailing only No. 2 Portland (.947), No. 1 Stanford (.944) and No. 17 Hofstra (.944).
- UNCG is ranked for the seventh week this season. The Spartans are No. 14 in the Soccer America poll, moving up two spots from last week; No. 15 in the NSCAA/Hendrickcars.com poll, up five from last week; and No. 19 in the SoccerTimes.com poll, up three spots from last week.
- The Spartans are 27th in the latest RPI rankings. Samford is the next-highest SoCon team at No. 85 and is the only other league team in the top 100.
- UNCG is 15-0-0 against Elon all-time in a series that began in 1988, UNCG's first season of women's soccer. Ten of the 15 matches have been decided by two goals or fewer, including a string of seven straight UNCG shutouts from 2005-09. The Spartans have outscored Elon 34-4 in the series.
- UNCG had to rally from its first halftime deficit of the season on Oct. 28 at Elon, but the Spartans took a 2-1 win to clinch their fourth unbeaten SoCon slate in the last five seasons. The Phoenix got a Chelsey Stark goal just 31 seconds into the match, a record for the quickest goal by a UNCG opponent. The score stood at 1-0 until early in the second half, when Partenheimer scored off a Barnekow pass in the 54th minute to pull the Spartans even. Lauren Hein scored what would be the game-winner in the 63rd minute, getting a through ball from Katie Durst and putting away her fifth goal of the season.
- Padgett, the 2009 SoCon co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, leads UNCG with 25 points on 10 goals and a five assists this season, all career highs. Schmidbauer is second with 22 points on eight goals and six assists, while Barnekow is third with four goals and a SoCon-best 11 assists for 19 points. Kearney has played all but 48 minutes in goal this season, posting a goals against average of 0.54 and a save percentage of .839 in 1,682:07. She has turned in 10 shutouts and allowed just 10 goals in 19 games.
- Schmidbauer's 22 points thus far on the season put her in exclusive company in UNCG lore. She is 10th on the Spartans' freshman scoring list, two points ahead of 2004 SoCon Player of the Year Amy Carnell (2002). Schmidbauer is now just one point back of ninth-place Meghan Guarnotta (1988).
- UNCG leads the SoCon in several categories: points per game (7.16), goals per game (2.26), goals (43) assists (50), assists per game (2.63), corner kicks per game (6.00), goals allowed (11) and GAA (0.57). Barnekow leads the league and is eighth in the nation in assists (11) and leads the league and is 11th nationally in assists per game (0.58), while Padgett leads the league in points per game (1.32), goals (10) and goals per game (0.53). Kearney leads the SoCon and is 11th nationally in GAA (0.54) and is second in the SoCon shutouts (10) and shutouts per game (0.53).
- Kearney is UNCG's and the SoCon's career leader in GAA, as she holds a mark of 0.61 in 57 matches played. She is also UNCG's leader in career shutouts with 29, good for second in SoCon history. She is now just seven back of the SoCon record of 36.
- UNCG has made a habit of the quick strike this season. In 17 matches, the Spartans have scored consecutive goals within five minutes of each other nine times. Taking it a step further, UNCG had three within five minutes at Chattanooga on Sept. 24 and three in a span of exactly nine minutes against Wofford on Oct. 15.
- UNCG has outscored its competition 43-11 this season. The Spartans have allowed just three first-half goals this season, outscoring their competition 21-3 in the opening frame, and have trailed at the half just once this year, at Elon on Oct. 28.
- Of UNCG's 43 goals scored thus far this season, 29 of them have come from underclassmen. Sophomores Padgett (10), Hein (five), and Jessi Gulledge (three) account for 18, while freshmen Schmidbauer (eight), Schoening (one), Kory Spotts (one) and Lauren Lover (one) account for the other 11. Partenheimer, a senior, has scored seven, while juniors Barnekow (four) and Jaimey Etten (three) have the only other goals by upperclassmen.
- Elon's No. 5 seed is its highest ever. The Phoenix tied for fourth in the SoCon regular-season last year, but lost a tiebreaker for entry into the shortened league tournament. The 2009 tournament was abbreviated to just four teams as part of the league's cost-cutting measures for the 2009-10 academic year.
- Making its sixth appearance in 2010, the Phoenix is 1-4-1 in the SoCon tournament overall. Sunday's 1-0 win over College of Charleston was Elon's first ever in the tournament and moved the Phoenix into the semifinals for the first time in school history. Elon played to a 1-1 draw with Western Carolina in 2008 quarterfinals, but fell on penalty kicks, 4-3.
- When the Phoenix hosted UNCG on Oct. 28, it was playing with the knowledge that a win would secure Elon the fourth seed in the tournament and a home game in the first round. With the loss, Elon took the No. 5 seed, but still knocked off College of Charleston on the road to advance to the semifinals.
- College of Charleston outshot Elon 16-4 Sunday, but the Phoenix got a goal from Simi Dhaliwal off a Stark pass in the 65th minute to get the win. Elon's defense and keeper Kristen Haney did the rest, as Haney made four saves to protect the shutout.
- The Phoenix had a pair of student-athletes earn SoCon postseason honors. Forward Brittany Hallberg was a second-team All-SoCon pick, while Stark earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team.
- Elon has turned in seven shutouts on the season, tied for fourth-most in the SoCon.
- Hallberg leads Phoenix with 18 points on six goals and six assists on the season, while Stark is second with 16 points on six goals and four assists. Alanna Winsper has 15 points on five goals and five assists. Haney has started all 20 games in goal for Elon, turning in six shutouts, a 1.27 GAA and a .706 save percentage.
- Elon is 2-0-0 in neutral contests this season, downing Gardner-Webb and Coastal Carolina at a tournament in Wilmington, N.C., on Sept. 3 and 5, respectively. The Spartans are 1-0-1 on neutral ground, beating Utah in Athens, Ga., on Aug. 29 and playing to a scoreless draw with Southern Cal in Fullerton, Calif., on Sept. 3.
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