GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman Kristen Schmidbauer scored the biggest goal of her young career as top-seeded and 16th-ranked UNCG downed No. 8 seed Wofford 1-0 in the first round of the Southern Conference Championship on Sunday.
The Spartans ran their winning streak to a school-record 14 matches to improve to 17-1-1 on the season. UNCG will face No. 5 seed Elon on Friday in Cullowhee, N.C., at 5 p.m. The Phoenix downed No. 4 seed College of Charleston on Sunday, 1-0.
Schmidbauer gave UNCG the only goal it would need on the day in the ninth minute, with a trio of freshmen combining on the score. When the Spartans drew their first corner of the day, freshman Stine Schoening sent a ball into the box that classmate Morgan Kennedy nodded toward the goal. The pass found Schmidbauer right in front of the goal and the rookie pushed it home for her eighth tally of the season.
That's where the school would stay the rest of the day, as the Terriers (7-8-4) would manage just two shots on the contest, both of which came in the second half.
UNCG had its chances to add on, but ran up against some tough luck and solid defending. The Spartans took 17 shots on the afternoon, putting seven of them on frame. UNCG's best scoring chances came within seconds of each other in the second half, as Kaytee O'Brien's close-range shot was cleared off the line by Wofford midfielder Anne Phillips and Cat Barnekow's follow shot drew iron on the left post.
Wofford was held without a shot in the first half, but did have a solid scoring opportunity about midway through the frame. Chelsea Ashworth found a streaking Emily Bougas with a through ball that split the UNCG defense, leaving Ashworth one-on-one with keeper Kelsey Kearney. Kearney came out and made a nice sliding clearance at the top of the 18-yard box to prevent the open-net goal.
The Terriers' first shot came in the 52nd minute, when Sydney Reed's header on a corner kick went wide. Wofford's only other shot came in the 70th minute, when Rachael Blackburn sent a long-range attempt in from the left wing on frame. Kearney was there to make the easy grab to keep the Terriers off the board.
In addition to limiting Wofford to just two shots on the afternoon, UNCG's starting back line of Schoening, Kennedy, Katie Evans and Nicole Danford held the Terriers to just two corner kicks, as well. UNCG took eight.
Kearney picked up the shutout with one save on the afternoon. The shutout was her 10th of the season, tied for third-most in a single season in school history. It was also the 29th of her career, giving her sole possession of second place in SoCon history.
Wofford keeper Kimberly Cohn finished with five saves and allowed just the one goal.
The win puts the Spartans into the SoCon semifinals for the 11th straight season and 13th overall in the Spartans' 14 seasons in the league. UNCG improved to 11-1-1 all-time in quarterfinal-round games.
"When you get to the conference tournament, it's like the World Cup," UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski said. "You want to win and advance. Our girls did a very solid job today. We didn't really concede any scoring opportunities to our opponent. We got our goal, obviously we took a lot shots, had some good opportunities, but Wofford, to their credit, they defended well. They weren't going to come in here and lay down."
UNCG's senior class of Evans, Jenn Partenheimer and Jen Rincon also became the winningest class in school history. The trio improved to 62-17-5 in their careers, surpassing the 61 wins the 1998 senior class amassed.
UNCG, which donned pink jerseys and shoelaces in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also completed the first undefeated home slate in school history. The Spartans went 9-0-0 at UNCG Soccer Stadium this season.
Friday's contest will be a rematch of the regular-season finale for UNCG and Elon. The teams squared off in Elon, N.C., on Thursday, with the Phoenix jumping out to an early lead with a goal in the first minute of play before the Spartans scored a pair of second-half goals to rally for the 2-1 win.
The teams have met in the SoCon tournament just two other times, with UNCG taking wins in 2006 and 2007.
UNCG 1, Wofford 0
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Wofford............. 0 0 - 0
UNCG................ 1 0 - 1
1. 8:46 UNCG Kristen Schmidbauer (8) (Morgan Kennedy;Stine Schoening)
Shots: Wofford 2, UNCG 17
Saves: Wofford 6 (Kimberly Cohn 5; TEAM 1), UNCG 1 (Kelsey Kearney 1)
Corner kicks: Wofford 2, UNCG 8
Fouls: Wofford 9, UNCG 9
- UNCG -