No. 1 seed UNCG (18-1-1) vs. No. 2 seed Samford (13-5-3), Nov. 7, 1 p.m., Cullowhee, N.C., SoCon title game
Video: SoCon.TV ($6.95)
- Top-seeded and 14th-ranked UNCG will square off with No. 2 seed Samford in the Southern Conference Championship title game on Sunday at the Catamount Athletic Complex in Cullowhee, N.C. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
- The Spartans are 25-6-3 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 6-1-1 all-time in the title game, losing to Furman in the 2007 final and playing to a scoreless draw with Western Carolina in 2008 before the Catamounts claimed the title in a penalty kick shootout.
- Samford, which joined the league in 2008, is playing in its first SoCon title match. The Bulldogs reached the semifinals in each of their first two seasons in the league.
- UNCG and Samford have met just three times, with the series knotted up at 1-1-1. The teams played to a scoreless draw in the first meeting in 2008, then Samford picked up a 2-1 win over the Spartans in Greensboro last season. UNCG returned the favor this year, taking a 1-0 win in Birmingham, Ala., on Sept. 26. Jenn Partenheimer scored the game's lone goal in the fourth minute and the UNCG defense made it stand.
- The Spartans have yet to allow a goal in the SoCon Championship, taking a 1-0 win over Wofford in the quarterfinal round before earning a 2-0 win over Elon in the semifinals on Friday.
- Lauren Hein came up big for the Spartans in the 2-0 win over Elon, UNCG's second contest against the Phoenix in a span on nine days. Hein scored both UNCG goals, twice converting passes from Cat Barnekow. Hein scored her first goal in the 14th minute, heading home a Barnekow pass. She made it a two-goal game in the 63rd minute, burying another Barnekow pass. Tabitha Padgett also picked up an assist on the play. Keeper Kelsey Kearney made two stops for her 11th shutout of the season.
- The Spartans dropped Wofford at home on Oct. 31, 1-0, in the opening round of the SoCon Championship. A trio of freshmen propelled the Spartans to the win, as Stine Schoening took a corner kick that Morgan Kennedy headed to Kristen 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.
- Eight Spartans earned SoCon postseason honors this week, highlighted by a league-best five players on the All-SoCon First Team. Padgett, Barnekow, Partenheimer, Kearney and Katie Evans all earned first-team honors, while Schmidbauer claimed a spot on the second team. Schmidbauer, Schoening and Kennedy also earned spots on the All-Freshman Team.
- The Spartans have won a school-record 15 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 (18 straight) and No. 1 Stanford (16). UNCG has also surpassed the school record for the longest unbeaten streak, which was previously a 14-game stretch in 2006 that was matched in 2008.
Active winning streaks
No. 17 Hofstra – 18 matches (next game Sunday)
No. 1 Stanford – 16 (next game Sunday)
No. 14 UNCG – 15 (next game Sunday)
No. 13 UC Irvine – 14 (next game Sunday)
No. 15 Denver – 14 (next game Saturday)
No. 22 Boston U. – 12 (next game Saturday)
- UNCG's senior class of Evans, Partenheimer and Jen Rincon made history in the win over Wofford in the first round of the SoCon tournament. The class set a school record for wins in a four-year span with its 62nd victory. The trio is now 63-17-5 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 .771 mark is 62 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 18-1-1, 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 .925 winning percentage, trailing only No. 2 Portland (.947 – the Pilots play again Saturday afternoon), No. 1 Stanford (.947) and No. 17 Hofstra (.947).
- With UNCG's win over Wofford on Oct. 31, the Spartans finished the season 9-0-0 at home, good for the first undefeated home slate in school history.
- 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.
- Padgett, the 2009 SoCon co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, leads UNCG with 26 points on 10 goals and a six 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 13 assists for 21 points. Kearney has played all but 48 minutes in goal this season, posting a goals against average of 0.51 and a save percentage of .844 in 1,772:07. She has turned in 11 shutouts and allowed just 10 goals in 20 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 (7.15), goals per game (2.25), goals (45) assists (53), assists per game (2.65), corner kicks per game (5.90), goals allowed (11) and GAA (0.54). Barnekow leads the league in assists (13) and in assists per game (0.65), and entered the weekend eighth and 11th nationally in those categories, respectively (the NCAA releases updated stats every Monday, so those rankings do not update throughout the week). Padgett leads the league in points (26), points per game (1.30), goals (10) and goals per game (0.50). Kearney leads the SoCon (and entered the week 11th nationally) in GAA (0.51) and is second in the SoCon shutouts (11) and shutouts per game (0.55).
- Kearney is UNCG's and the SoCon's career leader in GAA, as she holds a mark of 0.60 in 58 matches played. She is also UNCG's leader in career shutouts with 30, good for second in SoCon history. She is now just six 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 45-11 this season. The Spartans have allowed just three first-half goals this season, outscoring their competition 22-3 in the opening frame, and have trailed at the half just once this year, at Elon on Oct. 28.
- Of UNCG's 45 goals scored thus far this season, 31 of them have come from underclassmen. Sophomores Padgett (10), Hein (seven), and Jessi Gulledge (three) account for 20, 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.
- Samford's No. 2 seed is its best since entering the SoCon. The Bulldogs were the No. 3 seed in each of their first two seasons in the league.
- The Bulldogs are 1-1-3 in the SoCon Championship all-time. Samford went 0-1-1 in 2008, tying with College of Charleston in the first round before falling to eventual champion Western Carolina in the semifinals. Last season, Samford was one of the four to qualify for the abbreviated tournament, but again played to a tie with College of Charleston, this time losing the penalty kick shootout. This season, the Bulldogs played to a 1-1 draw with Davidson in the quarterfinals, winning the shootout 4-3, before downing The Citadel in the semifinals on Friday, 4-3.
- Samford had to rally past No. 3 seed The Citadel on Friday, scoring three straight goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit. Trine Taule had a pair of goals for Samford, but it was freshman Shanika Thomas' strike in the 86th minute that snapped a 3-all tie and led the Bulldogs into the title game. Samford drew first blood in the contest on a Michelle Moll goal in the 12th minute, but The Citadel rattled off three straight quick ones, scoring in the 17th, 24th and 28th minutes. The Citadel's final goal was a Samford own goal, as keeper Alyssa Whitehead mishandled a corner kick. Taule notched her first goal of the game in the 34th minute to make it a one-goal game, then tied it with a goal in the 69th minute.
- In Samford's 1-1 draw with Davidson on Oct. 31, Paige Lanter scored in the 59th minute before the Wildcats tied it with a goal in the 81st. After a pair of scoreless overtime periods, the game went to a shootout. Lanter's PK was saved, and Davidson made its first to take a 1-0 lead. Samford's Leah Leppert made her attempt to tie it, and Davidson missed the goal completely with its second attempt. Colette Nammour, Sarah Wilkinson and Taule made their next three shots in the order, and Davidson kept pace until its fifth attempt. Rachel Barnett's shot went off the left post to send Samford through to the semis.
- The Bulldogs put three players on the All-SoCon First Team and two on the second team. Sara Wilkinson, Leppert and Namour earned first-team honors, while Lanter and Whitehead took spots on the second team. Taule was an All-Freshman selection.
- Taule leds the Bulldogs this season with 17 points on seven goals and three assists. Wilkinson is next with 11 points on five goals and one assist, while Lanter and Katie Proud are tied with 10 points each, both on four goals and two assists. Whitehead has played every minute in goal for Samford this season, posting a 0.67 GAA, an .848 save percentage and a SoCon-best 12 shutouts.
- Samford leads the SoCon in shots per game (315) and shutouts (12) and is second in goals (38), goals allowed (17) and GAA (0.78). Individually, Whitehead leads the league in shutouts (12) and shutouts per game (0.57) and is second in GAA (0.78). Whitehead entered the week 31st in the nation in GAA, but saw her number balloon 11 points after Friday's game, in which she allowed three goals for just the second time this season. The other was in a 3-0 loss to Memphis on Aug. 22.
- Samford is 1-0-0 in neutral games this year, with its first neutral contest of the season coming against The Citadel in Cullowhee, N.C., on Friday. UNCG is 2-0-1 on neutral ground, with wins over Utah in Athens, Ga., on Aug. 29 and over Elon in Cullowhee on Friday. The draw came against Southern Cal in Fullerton, Calif., on Sept. 3.
- UNCG -