UNCG to face South Carolina in top-20 clash in NCAA first round
No. 10 UNCG (19-1-1) vs. No. 20 South Carolina (14-5-4), Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m., Charlottesville, Va., NCAA first round
- No. 10 UNCG returns to the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship for the first time since 2007 when it faces No. 20 South Carolina in the first round Friday in Charlottesville, Va.
- The Spartans are making their ninth appearance in the NCAA tournament. UNCG is 4-8 in its previous eight appearances, winning first-round games in 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2007.
- Friday's contest will be the second in the NCAA tournament for the Spartans in Charlottesville, as UNCG played site host Virginia there in the second round in 2000. UNCG lost that contest, 6-1.
- The last time UNCG was in the NCAA tournament, the Spartans received an at-large bid in 2007 and knocked off Memphis 1-0 in the first round in Chapel Hill, N.C. UNCG fell to North Carolina in the second round, 3-1. The Spartans have three players on the roster that have seen NCAA action in their careers, as Jenn Partenheimer and Katie Evans started both NCAA games in 2007 and Jen Rincon came off the bench against North Carolina.
- UNCG earned its spot in the NCAA field by winning the Southern Conference Championship last weekend in Cullowhee, N.C. After topping No. 8 seed Wofford 1-0 in Greensboro on Oct. 31 in the quarterfinal round, the Spartans downed No. 5 seed Elon on Nov. 5, 2-0, in the semifinals. UNCG completed its title run with a 1-0 win over Samford in the championship game on Sunday, getting the game-winning goal from freshman Kristen Schmidbauer in the 58th minute. Partenheimer, Lauren Hein, Morgan Kennedy and Kelsey Kearney were named to the SoCon All-Tournament Team, with Kearney taking MVP honors.
- The SoCon tournament title was UNCG's seventh. The Spartans also won the SoCon regular-season title for the fifth straight season, going 11-0-0 for their fourth unbeaten SoCon slate in the last five years. UNCG went 9-0-1 in the SoCon in 2006, 10-0-0 in 2007, 10-0-1 in 2008 and 9-2-0 in 2009.
- At 19-1-1 this season, UNCG has matched the school record for single-season wins, set in 1997. That squad, which went 19-6-0, picked up the first NCAA win in school history, knocking off No. 5 Duke in the first round, 3-1 in overtime.
- UNCG's 19 wins are tied for the most in NCAA Division I this season. Only Denver, which finished its season with a 19-2-1 mark, has as many wins as the Spartans on the year.
- UNCG's only two non-wins came in an early season trip to California for the Under Armour Invitational. The Spartans played to a scoreless draw with Southern Cal (which was unranked at the time but has been in an out of the rankings all season) on Sept. 3 and lost 2-0 to tournament host Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 5.
- The Spartans are riding a school-record 16-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament. That streak is the second-best active streak in the nation behind only consensus No. 1 Stanford's 17-game streak. UNCG's .929 winning percentage is also second in the nation behind only Stanford's.950 mark (18-0-2).
- UNCG finds itself ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 1996 this week, as the Spartans jumped five spots (for the second straight week) in this week's NSCAA/Hendrickcars.com poll. All told, UNCG has been ranked for eight weeks this season by at least one poll. The Spartans are No. 13 in the final Soccer America poll, moving up one spot from last week, while they fell a spot to No. 19 in the SoccerTimes.com poll this week.
- The Spartans are 17th in the latest RPI rankings, jumping up 10 spots from the previous week. South Carolina is 32, down from 26th the week before.
- UNCG and South Carolina have met three times, with the Gamecocks leading the series 2-1 and each game being decided by a 2-0 score. The Spartans took the first meeting in Greensboro, N.C., in 2000 before South Carolina returned the favor the following year in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks took another 2-0 in win Greensboro in 2002 and the teams have not met since.
- Twenty-four of the 25 teams in the NSCAA/Hendrickcars.com poll were selected for the NCAA tournament, with only No. 24 Denver not getting a bid. Only six of the 16 four-team pods in the tournament feature two ranked teams, while just two feature three ranked teams. UNCG finds itself in one of those two extremely difficult draws, as UNCG (No. 10), South Carolina (No. 20) and Virginia (No. 8) are all in the Charlottesville pod. No. 7 Notre Dame is also hosting a pod with two other ranked teams in No. 13 Illinois and No. 22 Southern Cal. UNCG's matchup with South Carolina and the Illinois-Southern Cal game are the only two first-round matches pitting ranked opponents against each other.
- Eight Spartans earned SoCon postseason honors this year, highlighted by a league-best five players on the All-SoCon First Team. Evans, Partenheimer, Kearney, Tabitha Padgett and Cat Barnekow all earned first-team honors, while Schmidbauer claimed a spot on the second team. Schmidbauer, Kennedy and Stine Schoening also earned spots on the All-Freshman Team.
- UNCG's win over Wofford in the first round of the SoCon tournament was the 300th in program history. The Spartans now boast an all-time record of 302-156-21 in 23 years. That's good for an average of 13.1 wins per season and a .652 all-time winning percentage.
- UNCG's senior class of Evans, Partenheimer and 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 64-17-5 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 .773 mark is 64 points higher than the previous school record of .709 turned in by the 1997 class (59-23-4). 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 18. The previous record was 23, set by 1997 class.
- 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.
- 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 24 points on nine goals and six assists, while Barnekow is third with four goals and a SoCon-best 14 assists for 22 points. Kearney has played all but 48 minutes in goal this season, posting a goals against average of 0.48 and a save percentage of .848 in 1,862:07. She has turned in 12 shutouts and allowed just 10 goals in 21 games.
- Schmidbauer's 24 points thus far on the season put her in exclusive company in UNCG lore. She is tied for eighth on the Spartans' freshman scoring list, four points ahead of 2004 SoCon Player of the Year Amy Carnell (2002) and three shy of 1997 SoCon Player of the Year Kati Kantanen. Schmidbauer is now just one point back of Kristin Player (2007) and Jaime Ableman (2001), who are tied for sixth with 25 points each. Schmidbauer scored two of UNCG's three game-winning goals in the SoCon tournament, scoring the lone goals in 1-0 wins over Wofford and Samford.
- UNCG leads the SoCon in several categories: points per game (7.00), goals per game (2.19), goals (46) assists (55), assists per game (2.62), corner kicks per game (5.71), goals allowed (11), GAA (0.52) and shutouts (12). Barnekow leads the league in assists (14) and in assists per game (0.67), and is third and fifth nationally in those categories, respectively. Padgett is second in the league in points (25) and points per game (1.19) and leads the league in goals (10). Kearney leads the SoCon and is seventh nationally in GAA (0.48) and leads the league in shutouts (12) and shutouts per game (0.57).
- Kearney is UNCG's and the SoCon's career leader in GAA, as she holds a mark of 0.59 in 59 matches played. She is also UNCG's leader in career shutouts with 31, good for second in SoCon history. She is now just five back of the SoCon record of 36 held by Furman's Andie Hinshaw (2002-05).
- UNCG has made a habit of the quick strike this season. In 21 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 46-11 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 46 goals scored thus far this season, 32 of them have come from underclassmen. Sophomores Padgett (10), Hein (seven), and Jessi Gulledge (three) account for 20, while freshmen Schmidbauer (nine), Schoening (one), Kory Spotts (one) and Lauren Lover (one) account for the other 12. Partenheimer, a senior, has scored seven, while juniors Barnekow (four) and Jaimey Etten (three) have the only other goals by upperclassmen.
- South Carolina was an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament after falling in the Southeastern Conference Championship title game to Florida on Sunday on an own goal, 1-0. The Gamecocks are 14-5-4 on the season and played to 1-1 draws with Kentucky and LSU in the SEC tournament to earn their spot in the championship match. USC went 8-2-1 in SEC play to finish second in the Eastern Division behind Florida.
- The Gamecocks, who are making their fourth straight NCAA appearance, have been ranked all season in the NSCAA/Hendrickcars.com poll, peaking at No. 12 in the preseason poll. USC has been No. 20 in each of the last two polls.
- UNCG and South Carolina have faced a pair of common opponents this year in Wake Forest and Furman. The Gamecocks took 1-0 wins over both opponents, going to overtime with Furman. UNCG downed Wake Forest 2-1 and Furman 4-1.
-The Gamecocks have faced five ranked opponents this season, going 1-4. USC beat then-No. 22 Wake Forest on Sept. 19 but fell to then-No. 23 Minnesota (3-1, Sept. 16), then-No. 20 Georgia (1-0, Oct. 15), then-No. 8 Florida (1-0, Oct. 29) and then-No. 7 Florida (1-0, Sunday).
- South Carolina features the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year in junior forward Kayla Grimsley. Grimsley was joined on the All-SEC First Team by defender Brittiny Rhoades, while defender Ellen Fahey was named to the second team. Midfielder Danielle Au was an SEC All-Freshman pick.
- South Carolina leads the SEC in shutouts (10), GAA (0.62) and goals allowed (15). The Gamecocks are also second in the league in points per game (5.04) and goals scored (40).
- Grimsley leads the Gamecocks and the SEC with 34 points on 12 goals (also an SEC high) and 10 assists. Brooke Jacobs is second on the team with 18 points on seven goals and four assists, while Au has 11 points on four goals and three assists to round out USC's double-digit scorers. Mollie Patton has started all 22 matches in goal, posting an SEC-best 0.62 GAA. Patton also has an .823 save percentage and has posted nine shutouts.
- Grimsley is in the top 30 nationally in total points, goals and assists. Patton is 23rd nationally in GAA.
- South Carolina is 0-1-2 on neutral ground, with all three of those results coming at the SEC tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. UNCG is 3-0-1 in neutral games, with wins over Utah in Athens, Ga., and Elon and Samford at the SoCon tournament in Cullowhee, N.C. The tie came against Southern Cal in Fullerton, Calif.
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