GREENSBORO, N.C.—Defending tournament champion and 2011 regular-season champ UNCG opens Southern Conference Tournament play when the Spartans host Wofford, 7 p.m., Saturday at UNCG Soccer Stadium.
UNCG has arrived at this point in the season thanks largely to the play of its defense. In SoCon play, UNCG allowed just one goal in seven matches. Overall, UNCG has surrendered only 13 goals in 17 matches this season.
Goalkeeper Peyton Ford has enjoyed a record-setting season for the Spartans. The junior carries a league-leading 0.58 goals-against average into post-season play. Earlier this year Ford became UNCG's career Division I leader in shutouts. He now has 17 in his career, including eight this season. In SoCon play Ford posted a 0.19 gaa.
The top-seeded Spartans (8-7-2 overall) captured their seventh SoCon regular season title last weekend, and will be looking to add their sixth tournament championship. UNCG previously won SoCon Tournament titles in 1998, 2005-06, 2008 and 2010.
UNCG is 25-9 (.729) all-time in SoCon Tournament play and owns the second-best tournament winning percentage behind Furman (.766). The Spartans have reached the finals nine times.
Saturday's match will be the second meeting this season between the Spartans and Terriers (5-12-1). UNCG handed Wofford a 4-0 setback on Oct. 15 in Spartanburg, S.C. Freshman Austin Miller scored a pair of goals and added an assist, while Brian Graham had a goal and an assist.
Junior Hakan Ilhan, who scored every game-winning goal for the Spartans during last season's SoCon Tournament run, leads UNCG with nine goals and 21 points. Miller checks in next with six goals and three assists for 15 points, while Oddur Gudmundsson has three goals and five assists for 11 points.
SoCon Tournament semifinals and finals are for Nov. 11 and 13 in Boone, N.C.
• Head coach Justin Maullin is 20-13-6 (.590) in his second season with the Spartans, including 9-2-3 (.750) in SoCon regular-season games and 3-0-0 in SoCon Tournament play
• The Spartans are 2-1 all-time in SoCon Tournament matches with Wofford. The Terriers, however, won the last meeting, 1-0, in 2009.
• Saturday's match is the 20th meeting in the series between the Spartans and the Terriers, with UNCG holding a 17-1-1 advantage all-time
• Junior goalkeeper Peyton Ford added to his school record with his 17th career shutout last Tuesday against UNCW.
• Ford enters the post-season chasing another school record. With a 0.58 goals-against average, Ford is on pace to shatter the previous season record of 0.83 set by current assistant Jay Benfield in 2005.