UNCG to host No. 14 Wake Forest, head to ECU this weekend
UNCG vs. No. 14 Wake Forest, Aug. 26, 6 p.m., UNCG Soccer Stadium
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UNCG at East Carolina, Aug. 28, 6 p.m., Greenville, N.C.
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- UNCG will host No. 14 Wake Forest on Friday at 6 p.m. in the first game of a doubleheader with the Spartans' men's team, presented by Sterling Cottages at West End, and will cap the weekend at East Carolina on Sunday at 6 p.m.
- Friday's doubleheader with include the Spartan Restaurant Tailgate in the parking lot behind the south end zone from 5-8 p.m., as well as a kids' zone with inflatables. The tailgate will include chopped chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs. Guests can pay via meal plan, Spartan Cash, Flex, cash or Visa or Mastercard.
- The Spartans opened the season with a 4-0 loss to Virginia Tech on Aug. 19, with the loss snapping UNCG's nine-match home winning streak. The teams were locked in a tight battle until the Hokies scored with just under two minutes left in the first half. Virginia Tech added another goal just after halftime, then turned the game into a blowout with two more second-half goals. Kristin Player had two of UNCG's four shots on the evening.
- The loss spoiled the debut of UNCG coach Steve Nugent, who was hired in February after the departure of longtime coach Eddie Radwanski. Nugent inherited a squad that went 19-2-1 overall and 11-0-0 in the SoCon in 2010, setting school records for wins and fewest losses and a league record for conference wins while winning its fifth-straight regular-season SoCon title. UNCG also went 9-0-0 at the UNCG Soccer Stadium, good for the only undefeated home slate in school history, and was ranked in the top 10 nationally for the first time since 1996 last season.
- Cat Barnekow is UNCG's top returning scorer from last season, as she had 22 points on four goals and 14 assists. Lauren Hein had 18 points on seven goals and four assists, while Jaimey Etten is the only other returner to reach double figures, as she had 11 points on three goals and five assists. Player, who redshirted last season, led the team in scoring in 2009 with 20 points on seven goals and six assists.
- Keeper Kelsey 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 0.67 mark through her first three seasons. Already UNCG's school record-holder with 31 shutouts in just three seasons, she needs six more to become the SoCon's career leader in that category, as well.
- Kearney was named one of 30 national candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award last week. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award is given in football, men's and women's soccer, men's ice hockey, men's lacrosse, baseball, softball, men's and women's basketball and volleyball.
- The last time UNCG met Wake Forest, on Aug. 23, 2010, the Spartans stunned the 10th-ranked Demon Deacons on the road, 2-1. Hein had a goal and an assist, Jenn Partenheimer scored the game-winning goal on an incredible volley from 30 yards out and Kearney was outstanding in goal, making five saves and allowing just a late penalty kick goal.
- The Spartans have knocked off a ranked opponent in each of the last three seasons. In addition to downing No. 10 Wake Forest in 2010, UNCG toppled then-No. 11 Duke in 2009 and then-No. 15 Santa Clara in 2008.
- Wake Forest, picked seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, leads the series against UNCG, 11-2-1. The teams first met in 1998, with the Deacs taking the first six meetings before the Spartans grabbed a 2-1 win in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2003. Wake won the next three before the squads played to a 1-1 draw in 2007, then took the next two before UNCG's upset last season.
- The Deacs are off to a 2-0 start to the season with wins over Auburn and UCF. Wake has outscored its competition 5-1 so far in 2011, with Katie Stengel leading the charge with two goals and two assists. Stengel had two goals and an assist in Wake's win over Auburn, then followed that up with an assist against UCF to earn ACC Player of the Week honors. She was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week.
- Stengel, who scored 16 goals and 37 points as a freshman last season, is on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List and was a Soccer America Preseason All-American. She was a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy last season, as well as an All-American and Top Drawer Soccer's National Rookie of the Year.
- Aubrey Bledsoe has played all 180 minutes in goal for the Deacs so far, allowing just one goal and making seven saves while posting a 0.50 goals against average.
- Wake is ranked 14th nationally in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire Top 25, 13th by SoccerTimes.com and 18th by Soccer America.
- East Carolina opened its season with a 4-0 loss to then-No. 21 South Carolina but rebounded with a 4-1 win over Old Dominion on Sunday that saw senior Kimmy Cummings notch her first career hat trick.
- The Pirates host UNCW on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a contest that was moved up a day because of the threat of inclement weather in the Greenville, N.C., area.
- The Pirates were picked ninth in the preseason Conference USA poll. Senior forward Amanda Malkiewicz, who led ECU in goals (seven), assists (six) and points (20) last season, was a Preseason All-C-USA selection.
- Entering play Thursday, Cummings is ECU's scoring leader on the young season, with six points on three goals. Christiane Cordero has worked all but 10 minutes in net for the Pirates, posting a 2.65 GAA and eight saves. She has taken the decision in both of ECU's contests thus far.
- UNCG and East Carolina have met just once before, with the Spartans taking a 2-0 win in Greensboro on Aug. 20 of last season. The Spartans got goals from Tabitha Padgett and Kory Spotts, while Kearney picked up the shutout with five saves.
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