This weekend resulted in a solid three game stretch for the men’s and women’s soccer teams starting with the women winning a great contest against the Mercer bears on Friday night. Redshirt freshman Kaley Tucker scoring the lone goal, a great strike that curved just enough. The men played in their homecoming game also against the Mercer Bears on Saturday night. It was an exciting match from start, though it began with an early goal for the Bears. When the boys tied the game up, it was then a battle to see who could come out with the final, deciding goal. Junior midfielder Leeroy Maguraushe scored in overtime on a penalty kick, with nice control and style. The men also celebrated their two seniors: defenders Eric Gunnarsson and Nicholas Downs. On Sunday, the women closed out their regular season against the Citadel.
While the first half of the game saw inconsistent play from the blue and gold, a different Spartans team came out for the second half. Sophomore forward Cienna Rideout scored a hat trick to lead the Spartans to victory. Junior defender Emily Jensen also scored a goal, leaving the contest 4-0. The women also celebrated their four seniors before the game: defender Regan Lehman, midfielder/defender Melanie Spensiero, goalkeeper Chloe Buehler and midfielder Hannah Hoeksema.
Saying goodbye to the seniors will be hard for both teams. Gunnarsson and Downs both longstanding members for the Spartans. Gunnarsson giving all four years to the G, working hard to earn his much deserved spot as a starter in the lineup. As a solid fixture for the defense while here at UNCG, the backline will have to do work to stay as strong as they were this year. Downs redshirted after he was injured last season, and after many hours of hard work and rehab, he returned for his final season. While Downs is not on the field, his presence is still felt as he stands on the sideline supporting the boys. Both Gunnarsson and Downs have had an impressive academic career as well.
For the women, they are losing four core players for their team. Altogether they have combined for an impressive career. Regan Lehman was having an incredible last season, currently sitting in second place for goals scored. Not only has she held down the backline, but she has moved to the midfield to show her talent. Losing Lehman will be a reality check for the team as she holds down the backline consistently during her time. Melanie Spensiero will be tough to replace on the outside as she consistently makes great runs and sends in great balls for forwards. Constantly a tough player for the other team to deal with, losing Spensiero will create a blank space for someone to fill her shoes. Chloe Buehler has had an incredible career here at UNCG. Since arriving on UNCG’s campus, she made an immediate impact for the Spartans. She has consistently sacrificed herself for the team, Buehler ended her last regular season match with a much deserved shut-out. Hannah Hoeksema will be greatly missed in the midfield, her height allowing her to win balls and great talent to guide her to spend in great balls. It should be noted that this season Hoeksema had an incredible assist. Her hair tie had fallen out, her hair blowing in the breeze, she sent the ball in and without doubt it connected with junior defender Emily Jensen for an incredible header goal and the unofficial play of the year for the women’s team.
While both teams are losing great leaders, the future is not unsure for them. Both teams have an incredible plethora of talent with the underclassmen, both coaches confident in the past years recruiting class.
The men’s team play Furman in Greenville, South Carolina on Oct. 28. They currently sit in the second place in the SoCon (Southern Conference) standings behind Eastern Tennessee State University. The women’s team play at home on Saturday starting their conference play against Chattanooga. The last time they met Chattanooga, the game ended in a tie.