Spartans to host North Georgia for women's soccer exhibition Sunday
UNCG vs. North Georgia (exhibition), Aug. 14, 2 p.m., UNCG Soccer Stadium
- UNCG will host its first women's soccer exhibition against outside competition this season when North Georgia comes to town for a 2 p.m. Sunday match at the UNCG Soccer Stadium. Admission is free.
- The teams will play three 30-minute periods with unlimited substitutions.
- The Spartans are coming off a record-breaking season in which they went 19-2-1 and 11-0-0 in the Southern Conference, setting school records for wins and fewest losses and a league record for conference wins. UNCG also went 9-0-0 at the UNCG Soccer Stadium, good for the only undefeated home slate in school history. The Spartans won their fifth consecutive regular-season SoCon title in 2010. UNCG was ranked in the top 10 nationally for the first time since 1996 last season.
- UNCG has quite a different look this season. Longtime coach Eddie Radwanski, the NSCAA/Mondo Southeast Region Coach of the Year last season, departed for Clemson, taking assistant coach Jeff Robbins with him. In his place is first-year head coach Steve Nugent, who brought in a staff of club veteran Sandy Davison and former Spartan Jamie Corti. Volunteer coach Bill Steffen, who works with the goalkeepers, returns for his fourth season with the team. The Spartans also welcome eight new players to the fold this season, including five freshmen and three transfers.
- UNCG must replace six starters from last season, but brings back all-region performers Kelsey Kearney in goal and Cat Barnekow at forward. Kearney set a pair of school records last season, matching the single-season mark with 12 shutouts and setting the career shutouts mark with 31. She now needs just six to become the SoCon's all-time shutouts leader. Barnekow, who played in the midfield last year, was third in the nation in assists with 14, the third-most in a single season in school history.
- Kristin Player, who redshirted last season, returns for her redshirt senior year. A two-time all-conference performer, Player was the 2007 SoCon Freshman of the Year.
- The Spartans return 15 veteran players. In addition to Kearney, Barnekow and Player, UNCG also returns seniors Jaimey Etten, Nicole Danford, Casey Godwin and Alex Perry, juniors Stephanie Partenheimer, Lauren Hein, Katie Durst and Jessi Gulledge, and sophomores Nitang Jones, Kaytee O'Brien, Lauren Lover and Ashlee Wilhelmsen.
- UNCG welcomes eight newcomers to the fold this season. Karin Sendel comes in as a junior after two years at Ohio State, while Christina Chai Chang (St. John's) and Tinna Bergthorsdottir (Greensboro College) transfer in as redshirt sophomores. Casey McCavitt, Shea Glaspey, Karina Rodriguez, Ashley Stokes and Klarie Ake join the team as freshmen.
- Barnekow is UNCG's top returning scorer, as she had 22 points last year on four goals and 14 assists. Hein had 18 points on seven goals and four assists, while Etten is the only other returner to reach double figures, as she had 11 points on three goals and five assists.
- Kearney, a three-time All-SoCon selection (first team, 2008 and 2010), enters the season as the UNCG and SoCon career leader in goals against average, as she has posted a 0.61 mark through her first three seasons.
- North Augusta, a Division II team out of the Dahlonega, Ga., and the Peach Belt Conference, returns 14 letterwinners from last year's 14-5-1 squad, which set a school record for wins in a season and was nationally ranked for the first time in school history. Six starters return, but the Saints' top two scorers from last year, Samantha Abrahart and Casey Smith, are gone. Smith was a two-time All-American and led all of DII in assists last season with 18.
- The Saints' top returning scorer is Natalie Douglass, who scored 16 points on seven goals and two assists as a junior last year. Classmate Emily Dover had 15 points on seven goals and one assist in 2010. Senior keeper Kirsten Ross went 8-2-1 as the keeper of record last year, posting three shutouts and a 0.99 GAA.
- North Georgia played five games against ranked opponents last year and fell just one win shy of the first NCAA berth in school history. The Saints picked up wins over No. 15 Florida Southern and No. 8 Atlantic Armstrong and dropped contests to No. 7 Atlantic Armstrong, No. 21 UNC Pembroke and No. 12 Columbus State. The loss to Columbus State came in the Peach Belt final.
- Barnekow will be seeing a couple of members of the Saints for the second time in the last three weeks. Playing for the Ottawa Fury of the W-League over the summer, Barnekow's squad fell to the Atlanta Silverbacks in the league's title game. The Silverbacks were coached by North Georgia coach Chris Adams, while Saints assistant Stacey Balaam played for the team.
- The Saints have 11 freshmen on the roster this season.
- Taylor Lee, a redshirt junior, transferred to North Georgia from Western Carolina prior to the 2010 season, but never saw any action against UNCG when she was in the Southern Conference. She was limited to one game during the 2008 season and redshirted the 2009 campaign as a member of the Catamounts.
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