Spartans open SoCon play at Chattanooga on Friday
UNCG (5-1-1, 0-0-0 SoCon) at Chattanooga (2-6-0, 0-0-0 SoCon), Sept. 24, 7 p.m., Chattanooga, Tenn.
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- After an impressive run through the nonconference slate, UNCG's women's soccer team starts defense of its four straight Southern Conference regular-season titles when it opens SoCon play Friday at Chattanooga.
- Friday's contest pits the top and bottom teams in the SoCon against each other. The Spartans enter play atop the league standings at 5-1-1, while Chattanooga is 12th in the league at 2-6-0.
- UNCG is 10-3-1 all-time against the Lady Mocs. The Spartans have won five straight in the series, dating back to a 2-0 win over Chattanooga in the SoCon Championship in Greenville, S.C., in 2005. The Lady Mocs did all their damage in the series from 2002-05, going 3-0-1 against UNCG over that span. Friday's contest will be the third in the last four seasons between the two teams to take place in Chattanooga, Tenn.
- The Spartans took a hard-fought 1-0 win over Chattanooga on Oct. 18 of last season, with Kristin Player scoring the game's lone goal in the 43rd minute. Lauren Lopez and Stephanie Partenheimer picked up assists on the play. UNCG shut down the Lady Mocs' potent offense, which came in leading the SoCon with 2.17 goals per game and featured the league's leading scorer in Becca Smith. UNCG keeper Kelsey Kearney made one save in notching the shutout, while the defense limited the Lady Mocs to 10 shots, only one of which was on frame.
- UNCG is off to one of the best starts in school history. At 5-1-1, the Spartans have just one loss through their first seven games for just the fourth time in school history. The last UNCG team to have just one loss through seven contests was the 1997 squad, which opened the season 7-1 and went on to set a school record with 19 wins on the season.
- UNCG was undefeated through its first four games for the first time ever.
- After opening the season with wins over East Carolina, then-No. 10 Wake Forest and Utah, the Spartans jumped into the Soccer America Top 25 at No. 18 on Aug. 30, good for their first national ranking since being No. 13 in the Soccer Buzz preseason poll in 1998. UNCG fell from the rankings after going 0-1-1 at the Under Armour Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., but is still receiving votes in the NSCAA and Soccer Times polls. UNCG played Southern Cal, which was unranked at the time but now appears in the top 25 of all three polls, to a scoreless draw out in California.
- Last time out, UNCG downed Old Dominion on Sunday, 3-1. The Spartans scored three second-half goals, including a pair just 49 seconds apart, to blow open what had been a scoreless game at the half. Freshman Kristen Schmidbauer got the scoring started with her first career goal at the 58:03 mark. Lauren Hein made it a 2-0 game less than a minute later, converting a Cat Barnekow pass at the 58:52 mark. After the Lady Monarchs got a goal back in the 67th minute, senior Jenn Partenheimer took a pass from Tabitha Padgett and knocked it home from just inside the 18-yard box in the 73rd minute for the final margin.
- Hein leads UNCG with seven points on three goals and an assist on the season, while Padgett is second on the team with five points on two goals, both game-winners, and an assist. Jenn Partenheimer has four points on a pair of goals, while Barnekow has four points on a team-best four assists. Kearney has played all but 15 minutes in goal this season, posting a goals against average of 0.71 and a save percentage of .839 in 635:35. She has turned in three shutouts and allowed just five goals in seven games.
- With her three shutouts this season, Kearney is now up to 22 in her career, good for second on UNCG's career list. Kearney, a junior, now trails school-record holder Jennifer Stillman by three. Kearney is also UNCG's career leader in GAA, as she holds a mark of 0.65 in 45 matches played.
- Of UNCG's 10 goals scored thus far this season, eight of them have come from underclassmen. Sophomores Hein (three), Padgett (two) and Jessi Gulledge (one) account for six, while freshmen Schmidbauer and Kory Spotts have one each. Senior Jenn Partenheimer has UNCG's other two goals, including the game-winner at then-No. 10 Wake Forest on Aug. 23.
- Chattanooga is 2-6-0 on the season thus far, with wins over Tennessee Tech and USC Upstate. The Lady Mocs took a 2-1 win over Tennessee Tech at home on Aug. 22, and topped USC Upstate at Gardner-Webb's Border Classic in Boiling Springs, N.C., on Sept. 12, 1-0. Smith, who has been hampered by a preseason injury this season, scored the game-winner against USC Upstate in the 72nd minute, heading home a Hayley Sloan corner kick.
- Friday's contest will be Chattanooga's first at home in 33 days. After topping Tennessee Tech at Finley Stadium on Aug. 22, the Lady Mocs were on the road for the next month, going 1-5-0 in six games away from home.
- Six of Chattanooga's eight contests this season have been decided by one goal. UTC is 2-4 in those contests.
- Last time out, the Lady Mocs fell to Tennessee in Knoxville, 8-0, on Sunday. The Lady Vols held a 43-6 shot advantage on the day. Donna-Kay Henry led UTC with three shots, while Lauren Wilson had two off the bench. Keeper Taylor Mangrum made 15 saves and allowed seven goals in 64 minutes, while Sydney Dewberry worked the final 26 and made one save, allowing one goal. Starting midfielder Kelly Downs picked up a pair of yellow cards, resulting in a red, and will not be available against the Spartans on Friday.
- Henry leads the Lady Mocs in scoring with five points on two goals and an assist this season. Kerbi Towry is second with four points on two goals, while four other players have two points each. UTC has used a trio of keepers this season. Freshman Mangrum has started five matches and has a 2.86 GAA in 377:31, while sophomore Taylor Davidson has started three matches and posted a 1.39 GAA in 324:23. Sophomore Dewberry's only action came against Tennessee.
- Smith and Henry were 1-2 in the SoCon in scoring last season, with Smith leading the league with 1.75 points per game and Henry right behind her at 1.47.
- UNCG and UTC both lead the league in the SoCon in some statistical categories this season. The Spartans top the league in goals allowed with just five in seven games (0.71 per game) and goals against average (0.69), while the Lady Mocs lead the SoCon with 8.25 saves per game. The teams are two of the most physical in the conference, as they share the league lead with seven yellow cards each and UNCG leads the SoCon in fouls per game (12.29). Individually, UTC's Henry leads the league in shots (29) and shots per game (3.62), while Mangrum is tops (6.67) and Davidson is third (6.25) in saves per game. Kearney paces the SoCon with her 0.71 GAA, and Barnekow is second in the league in assists (four) and assists per game (0.57).
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