UNCG vs. Virginia Tech, Aug. 19, 7 p.m., UNCG Soccer Stadium
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- Preseason Southern Conference favorite UNCG officially kicks off the Steve Nugent era when the Spartans host Virginia Tech on Friday at the UNCG Soccer Stadium for both squads' regular-season opener.
- Nugent, who was hired in February after the departure of longtime coach Eddie Radwanski, inherited a squad that went 19-2-1 overall and 11-0-0 in the SoCon in 2010, setting school records for wins and fewest losses and a league record for conference wins while winning its fifth-straight regular-season SoCon title. UNCG also went 9-0-0 at the UNCG Soccer Stadium, good for the only undefeated home slate in school history, and was ranked in the top 10 nationally for the first time since 1996 last season.
- On Tuesday, the SoCon announced that the Spartans were picked atop the preseason coaches poll, edging out Samford by just one point. UNCG was the preseason favorite for the seventh straight season. Seniors Kelsey Kearney (keeper), Cat Barnekow (defender) and Jaimey Etten (midfielder) were all Preseason All-SoCon selections.
- Kearney picked up another honor later in the week, as she was named one of 30 national candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award on Wednesday. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award is given in football, men's and women's soccer, men's ice hockey, men's lacrosse, baseball, softball, men's and women's basketball and volleyball.
- UNCG picked up a 1-0 win over North Georgia on Sunday in its only exhibition contest against outside competition. Junior Lauren Hein scored in the fourth minute off a nifty through ball from redshirt sophomore Nitang Jones and Kearney and senior keeper Alex Perry made the lead stand.
- The Spartans return 15 veteran players this season. In addition to Kearney, Barnekow, Etten and Perry, UNCG also returns seniors Kristin Player, Nicole Danford and Casey Godwin, juniors Hein, Stephanie Partenheimer, Katie Durst and Jessi Gulledge, and sophomores Jones, Kaytee O'Brien, Lauren Lover and Ashlee Wilhelmsen.
- Kearney, Barnekow and Partenheimer are this season's team captains.
- UNCG welcomes eight newcomers to the fold this season. Karin Sendel comes in as a junior after two years at Ohio State, while Christina Chai Chang (St. John's) and Tinna Bergthorsdottir (Greensboro College) transfer in as redshirt sophomores. Casey McCavitt, Shea Glaspey, Karina Rodriguez, Ashley Stokes and Klarie Ake join the team as freshmen.
- Nugent brought in a coaching staff of club veteran Sandy Davison and former Spartan defender Jamie Corti. Volunteer coach Bill Steffen, who works with the goalkeepers, returns for his fourth season with the team.
- Barnekow is UNCG's top returning scorer from last season, as she had 22 points on four goals and 14 assists. Hein had 18 points on seven goals and four assists, while Etten is the only other returner to reach double figures, as she had 11 points on three goals and five assists. Player, who redshirted last season, led the team in scoring in 2009 with 20 points on seven goals and six assists.
- Kearney, a three-time All-SoCon selection (first team, 2008 and 2010), enters the season as the UNCG and SoCon career leader in goals against average, as she has posted a 0.61 mark through her first three seasons. Already UNCG's school record-holder with 31 shutouts in just three seasons, she needs six more to become the SoCon's career leader in that category, as well.
- Virginia Tech is also under the direction of a first-year head coach. Charles "Chuggar" Adair, who was the associate head coach for the Hokies for the past five seasons, takes over for former coach Kelly Cagle, who helmed the team for eight seasons.
- The Hokies, who went 10-10-1 overall and 4-5-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season, were an NCAA tournament team in 2010, falling in the first round to Dayton. Virginia Tech was ranked in each of the three major national polls (NSCAA/Hendrickcars.com, Soccer Times and Soccer America) at various points last season.
- Virginia Tech returns just two of its top five scorers from last season but brings back its leading scorer in Kelly Conheeney, who paced the squad with 22 points on five goals and 12 assists. Jazmine Reeves is the only other returner who was in double figures last year, as she scored 11 points on five goals and an assist.
- Keeper Dayle Colpitts, who started all 21 contests as a freshman last season, posted four shutouts and a 1.74 GAA in 2010.
- Colpitts and Reeves were ACC All-Freshman selections last season.
- The Hokies, who have added nine newcomers for 2011, downed East Carolina 4-1 in an exhibition match on Aug. 12. The teams played three 35-minute periods, with Virginia Tech getting on the board in the 54th minute on a Shannon Mayrose strike. ECU pulled level to open the third period, but the Hokies rattled off three straight goals to run away with the contest. Reeves put Virginia Tech on top to stay, followed by goals from Conheeney and freshman Kelsey Loupee.
- The last time UNCG and Virginia Tech met, the Hokies took a 4-0 win in Blacksburg, Va., on Sept. 11, 2009. Virginia Tech got two goals from Marika Gray and a goal and two assists from Conheeney. Jennifer Harvey had the Hokies' other goal. UNCG outshot Virginia Tech 9-6 in the contest. The four goals were the most given up by Kearney in her career and still stand as the most goals allowed by the Spartans in a game since 2005.
- UNCG leads the all-time series against the Hokies, 4-3. The Spartans took wins in 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2005, while Virginia Tech earned wins in 2001, 2006 and 2009.
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