GREENSBORO, N.C.—UNCG men's soccer team faces a crucial Southern Conference test when the Spartans visit College of Charleston, 7 p.m., Saturday at Patriots Point Soccer Stadium.
The Spartans (5-7-1 overall) enter the match tied for third in the SoCon standings with a 2-1-1 record. Preseason favorite UNCG is still in the hunt for the regular-season title but trails conference-leading Appalachian State (3-0-1) by three points (10-7). Teams receive three points for every conference victory and one point for each tie.
The Cougars (5-5-4 overall, 1-1-2 SoCon) are right behind the Spartans in the standings with five points. Charleston is led offensively by Andy Craven (6g, 2a) and Sean da Silva (3g, 4a). The Cougars played to a draw with ASU on Tuesday.
Junior Hakan Ilhan leads the Spartans in goals (6), assists (3) and points (15), while Ford ranks second in the SoCon with a 0.79 goals-against average. Ford's four shutouts tie him for third in the conference.
Ford has been especially outstanding of late, having allowed just three goals over his last 579 minutes for a 0.47 goals-against average in that span. In SoCon play Ford has allowed just one goal in 380 minutes (0.24 gaa). Ford was given the night off on Wednesday as redshirt freshman Davis Griffin was in goal during UNCG's 2-0 loss to Longwood.
• Head coach Justin Maullin is 17-13-5 (.557) in his second season with the Spartans, including 6-2-3 (.682) in SoCon games
• Wednesday's match is the 24th meeting in the series between the Spartans and the Cougars, with UNCG holding a 16-6-1 advantage in the series. The teams have evenly split the last three meetings (1-1-1), with the Spartans and Cougars playing to a 2-2 result last year in Greensboro.
• A victory on Saturday not only inches the Spartans closer to the top of the SoCon standings but also puts UNCG in firm position to host a first round conference tournament match on Nov. 5. The top four seeds host at home that day before tournament play resumes Nov. 11 and 13 in Boone, N.C.
• After last weekend's 4-0 win at Wofford, the Spartans are looking for their second road win of the season
• Junior goalkeeper Peyton Ford earned his 13th career shutout last Saturday at Wofford. He is one away from tying current assistant coach Jay Benfield (2001-05) for second on the school's all-time list.
• Benfield was the last Spartan keeper to post a sub-1.00 goals-against average, finishing the 2005 season at 0.83. Ford is on pace to match the UNCG Division I-era record.