Last Friday night, one goal was all that separated the UNCG women’s soccer team from victory on the road at East Tennessee State University. The goal from the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State came early in the match, just nine minutes in. The Blue and Gold held fast against the Buccaneer’s attacks for the remaining time of the game. The final score remained at 0-1 in favor for the Bucs. The game represented the first game on the road for the Spartans in a four-game road series. Also, the game marked the fourth straight road match that the Spartans hadn’t scored a goal. The game on Friday followed a stunning at-home performance the week before, where the Spartans took down Furman 4-0. This game against Furman represented a paradigm shift in the Spartans’ season – the blue and gold had experienced a slump of six consecutive losses and one tie prior to the matchup against the Paladins. The game against Furman contributed to the SoCon player of the week title earned by junior Chloe Butler. Despite that incredible win against Furman in front of the home crowd the week before, the Spartans would head to their game against Western Carolina with the conference loss to the Buccaneers weighing on their minds.
While the game against ETSU was certainly not the performance the team was looking for, the Spartans’ performance against the Catamounts of Western Carolina on Sunday more than made up for any disappointment the game in Johnson City caused. If the Spartans were tired from travel, it certainly did not show on Sunday. Much as in the game against ETSU, the match against the Catamounts saw a goal right out of the gate, however this time the ball got past WCU keeper. Junior midfield/defender Melanie Spensiero scored the winning goal in the fourth minute. The Spartans would hold on to their one goal lead for what remained of the ninety minutes of the game. The Spartans came back to Greensboro from Cullowhee knowing that while the game against ETSU had been a tough one, their victory against Western Carolina had been a decisive one.
In the coming weeks, the Spartans will look to continue taking down conference rivals in the same fashion they did against Furman and Western Carolina. This coming Friday, the Blue and Gold will hit the road to face off against conference rivals The Citadel. That match will take place in Charleston, South Carolina, the third game in a row that sees the Spartans on the road. On Sunday, the Spartans will continue to face off against conference rivals with their final regular-season away match against Mercer taking place in Macon, Georgia. The two final matches before the Southern Conference tournament will give the players some respite from travel and will take place at home, with the Spartans taking on Samford on Friday, October 21st, and Chattanooga on Sunday, October 23rd. These two games will serve as part of UNCG’s homecoming festivities and celebrations.
Following these matches, the Southern Conference tournament will begin its first rounds. The location of the initial games is as of yet unannounced, but the series of games will begin on Wednesday, October 26. Teams that make it past these initial rounds will go on to the quarterfinals that weekend. Shortly following this series of games, the semifinals will be held at ETSU on Friday, November 4. Ultimately, the tournament will culminate in the finals to be held in Johnson City, again hosted by ETSU. The finals will take place two days after the semis on November 6. So far this season, the Spartans have only fallen to two Southern Conference teams, Virginia Military Institute and East Tennessee State University, and tied one conference rival, Wofford, at home. To be in with a shot at a conference title, the Spartans will seek to reverse these losses in conference tournament play. The team looks forward to the student body’s support at the homecoming matches following fall break.