Take VI: UNCG-Furman once again for SoCon tourney title Sunday
No. 2 Furman (10-6-4) at No. 1 UNCG (10-5-4), 1 p.m.
Video: SoConSports.com (subscription required)
LiveStats: UNCGSpartans.com (via CofCSports.com)
+ It is only fitting that Furman and UNCG meet for the SoCon title on Sunday and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. The teams have won or shared 11 regular season titles in the 14 years that UNCG has been in the league and either Furman or UNCG has won nine of the 13 SoCon tournament titles during that time.
+ Top-seeded UNCG takes a 10-match unbeaten streak into Sunday. The Spartans have won consecutive overtime matches to make it to the finals, downing Wofford, 2-1, in overtime in the quarterfinals and Appalachian State, 1-0, in overtime in the semifinals. Hakan Ilhan has scored all three postseason goals.
+ Furman comes in having won three straight since losing to UNCG. The second-seeded Paladins defeated Davidson, 1-0, on Friday night in the semifinal round. That followed a 1-0 win over Wofford in the quarterfinals.
+ In a match with so many storylines, one that comes to the top is UNCG being ranked No. 1 in offense against Furman's top-ranked defense. The Spartans have scored 35 goals this season. Furman, which has scored just 19, has allowed just 18. UNCG's Ilhan leads the league in scoring with 29 points. Furman's goalkeeper Alec Kann is second in the league in scoring at 0.78 and third in save percentage at .778.
+ The Spartans hold a 24-8-1 mark all-time in Southern Conference Championship play. That is the second-best mark in conference history behind Furman. UNCG is making its 13th tournament appearance, with the Spartans making it to the finals for the ninth time 13 tournament appearances, logging a 4-4 mark previously. Furman is making its 22nd appearance in the SoCon tournament and the 14th time in the finals. The Paladins are 11-2 all-time in title matches. Furman is 35-9-2 all-time in SoCon tournament play.
+ Meeting for the sixth time in a title match on Sunday, UNCG and Furman have a long-standing history with each other in the postseason. Seventh-seeded UNCG upset No. 2 Furman the 2008 quarterfinals thanks in part to Jokull Elizabetarson's 50-yard goal. The year before, Furman defeated UNCG on its home pitch in overtime to claim the conference title and the automatic bid. Furman eliminated the Spartans in the 2002 semifinals, 1-0, before the tournament was shortened by a hurricane. In 2001, Furman got the best of UNCG in the finals, 2-1, to win the title, and also in 1999 with a 3-2 win in the championship match. UNCG had the upper hand in the 1998 final, 1-0, gaining a measure of revenge from Furman's title match with in 1997, 3-1.
+ UNCG won the regular season meeting in Greenville, 1-0, back on Oct. 30. Hakan Ilhan's feed to Adam Shore with 14:19 left to play was the difference in that on. The Spartans were held to just five shots in the match, three of them were on-goal, however.
+ Fabien Vorbe leads Furman in scoring with eight points on four goals. Michael Channell and Brooks Duff each have three goals. Kann has played all but 95 minutes in goal for Furman this season.
+ UNCG has been an offensive juggernaut lately. UNCG has 35 goals in 20 matches this season – 22 of those coming in the last 10 matches. Since an eight-day layoff that coach Justin Maullin thought was very important for his team to get its legs back, the Spartans have outscored their opposition, 22-8 in those nine matches, going 7-0-3 in that span.
+ Ilhan leads the Spartans – and the Southern Conference – in scoring with 29 points (11g, 7a). He has a point in seven straight and nine of the last 10 matches, logging 17 points in that span (7g, 3a). He is the first Spartan to surpass the 20-point mark since Thomas Campbell's 29 points in 2007. Freshman Brian Graham is second with 15 points on the year (6g, 3a). Sophomore Peyton Ford is UNCG's goalkeeper, logging a 1.10 GAA and .742 save percentage in 1889 minutes of action. In the 10-game unbeaten streak, Ford has a 0.76 GAA and an .805 save percentage. Friday's performance was his fifth shutout of the season.
+ Five Spartans earned all-conference honors on Wednesday and interim men's soccer coach Justin Maullin was named the league's Coach of the Year. Hakan Ilhan and Kris Byrd earned first-team honors, while Brian Graham, Fannar Arnarsson and Aaron Reifschneider earned second-team slots. UNCG's five honorees were the most among the eight league schools.