Sept. 26, 2013
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Neil Stafford has guided the Bearcats to a 4-6-0 season in his first year at the helm, which matches the win total from the 2012 season. Cincinnati's offense has been widespread with 10 different players notching goals on the year. Jae Atkinson, Emily Elsbrock and Mackenzie Reynolds head up the scoring with each tallying two goals on the year. Stafford has rotated between Kristina Utley and Natalie Smith in goal, but Smith has received the last three starts, which have resulted in wins.
2. The Bearcats enter the weekend on a three-game winning streak. They are coming off a 2-0 road trip, which hasn't happened since the 2011 season. Both of the wins this past weekend were shutouts by Smith, which also hadn't happened since 2011.
3. Natalie Smith was announced as the American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Week on Monday. The redshirt freshman aided the Bearcats in posting a 2-0-0 weekend by shutting out both Cornell and Providence for the first shutouts of her career.. Smith recorded eight saves over the weekend and improved to 3-3-0 on the season.
4. Cincinnati opens up American Athletic Conference play this weekend as they host Rutgers and Memphis. This is the first year of the league, which has a total of 10 women's soccer programs. Rutgers (7-1-0) enters the weekend with the best record in the AAC, while Memphis (7-2-0) has the next best. Out of UC's nine conference matches, five of them will be played at Gettler Stadium.
5. UC has one of the youngest starting 11 in the country as they start seven to eight underclassmen each game. Depending on the goalkeeper situation, there could be as many as nine underclassmen if redshirt freshman Natalie Smith is given the nod in net. Six players have logged over 600 minutes this season, and five of those are freshmen (Katy Couperus, Taylor Nelson, Kayla Utley, Madison Melnick and Bailey Wilson).