BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Senior Jenn Partenheimer scored in just the fourth minute and UNCG's defense made the goal stand as the Spartans downed Southern Conference rival Samford on Sunday, 1-0.
With the win, UNCG (7-1-1, 2-0-0 SoCon) continues one of the best starts in school history. This year's team is now one of just two in school history to have just one loss through its first nine games. The other was the 1991 squad, which opened 9-1-0.
"It was a great result for our group," UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski said. "The team played extremely well in the first half. It was good to get an early goal and get on the top of the game; we were dictating the tempo and flow of the contest. The girls came out with a very strong mentality and really put their footprint on the game."
UNCG was the aggressor from the outset, and took advantage of an early corner kick to get the only goal it would need on the day. Junior Jaimey Etten took the corner, and Partenheimer deposited the ball lower left from about 7 yards out just 3:47 into the game.
Partenheimer's goal was her fourth of the season, matching the career high she set as a freshman in 2007 and vaulting her into the team scoring lead. Etten's assist was her team-best fifth of the season.
Keeper Kelsey Kearney and the UNCG defense did the rest, keeping Samford (4-5-1, 0-2-0 SoCon) off the board for the Spartans' fourth shutout of the season.
Kearney made six saves on the afternoon, four of which came in the second half.
"Samford tried to apply a lot of pressure late in the game, as you'd expect, putting numbers forward," Radwanski said. "Our overall team defending was excellent. Kelsey was outstanding in goal, made the saves that she needed to do. She really controlled her box and 18-yard area and kept a lot of threats from being problems."
UNCG got off four shots and a pair of corner kicks in the contest before the Bulldogs recorded their first shot, but it was a close one. Michelle Moll had Samford's first good scoring chance of the afternoon in the 20th minute, but her attempt hit the crossbar.
Moll accounted for nearly all of Samford's offense in the first half, taking three of the team's four shots and forcing the first of Kearney's saves.
Kearney's counterpart, Alyssa Whitehead, didn't come up with her first save until the 41st minute, when she stopped Cat Barnekow's attempt. Whitehead would finish with three saves on the day.
UNCG held an 8-4 shot advantage in the first half, but Samford held a 7-4 edge in the second. All five of Samford's corner kicks came after halftime, including a pair in the 88th minute. Samford managed to get off shots on three of them, with Kearney saving Moll's header attempt in the 77th minute and the other two missing the mark.
Partenheimer, Barnekow and Kristen Schmidbauer led UNCG with three shots each. Moll had a team-best four for the Bulldogs.
Samford dropped its second straight at home after a 28-match home unbeaten streak. That streak, which spanned more than three years, was snapped Friday when the Bulldogs fell to Elon to open SoCon play.
Kearney inched closer to the school record for career shutouts, as she now has 23 for her career. She needs just three more to pass Jennifer Stillman, who posted 25 from 2002-05.
Kearney's effort in the net also extended Samford's streak to 309:05 without a goal.
The win was UNCG's first against the Bulldogs in three tries. Since joining the SoCon in 2008, Samford had tied and beaten the Spartans in two meetings.
UNCG returns to action on Friday when it hosts Georgia Southern at 7 p.m. at the UNCG Soccer Stadium.
UNCG 1, Samford 0
Goals by period 1
UNCG................ 1 0 - 1
Samford............. 0 0 - 0
1. 3:47 UNCG Jenn Partenheimer (4) (Jaimey Etten) - Bottom left corner from seven yards out on the mid-right side.
Shots: UNCG 12, Samford 11
Saves: UNCG 6 (Kelsey Kearney 6), Samford 3 (Alyssa Whitehead 3)
Corner kicks: UNCG 4, Samford 5
Fouls: UNCG 11, Samford 8
- UNCG -