It’s a big weekend for the UNCG men’s soccer team.
With just two games under their belt, the Spartans are facing stiff competition. UNCG will travel to Coastal Carolina – the 2016 Sun Belt Conference champions – on Friday, and will then host No. 3 UNC Chapel Hill on Monday night at 7 p.m. at UNCG Soccer Stadium.
And the Spartans are ready for a fight.
“It’s not unusual for us to play top teams like UNC,” said Head Coach Justin Maullin. “Other teams may go into those games and have more of a defensive strategy. I go the opposite way – I press them. We go after it.”
Aggressive offensive play is Maullin’s bread and butter. Last year, the Spartans were No. 1 in the nation in shots on goal per game, and No. 11 nationally in total goals scored.
“You’re not going to find a boring brand of soccer here. That’s clearly evident in the stats,” he said.
Maullin believes that this year’s team has the talent to continue that high-scoring trend. The Spartans welcome 13 new student-athletes – an unusually large class with a lot of potential.
“This recruiting class is probably the best we’ve had in my tenure here,” he said. “It’s really exciting.”
The team also has strong leadership in juniors Leeroy Maguraushe and Matteo Busio and senior Nicholas Downs, who returns to the starting lineup after an ACL injury sidelined him last year.
While the Spartans are looking for two big upsets this weekend, they’re also preparing for Southern Conference play. Last year, two SoCon teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Maullin hopes to be among that group this year.
“The goal is to win a SoCon Tournament,” he said. “And the ultimate goal is to try and get back to a Sweet 16 and beyond.”
All home soccer games are free and open to the public. For more information and to view the full schedule, visit uncgspartans.com. Stay up-to-date throughout the year by following UNCG Athletics on Facebook and Twitter.
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Carlos Morales, UNCG Athletics