Orange Beach, AL - The No. 4-seeded Georgia soccer team got a goal from defender Bailey Powell off a corner kick with 4:14 remaining in double overtime to earn a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Auburn and land a spot in the semifinals of the 2010 SEC Championships tomorrow at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
The win avenged the Bulldogs’ 2-1 loss to Auburn in the regular-season home finale just 10 days ago in Athens. Georgia advances to meet the top-seeded Florida Gators tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The overtime game was Georgia’s eighth of the season, tying the program record.
“You just hope that a perfect ball will come in like that and I try to be there to finish it,” Powell said. “It’s really awesome to come from behind. It’s just a great feeling.”
The Bulldogs (11-5-4) fell behind just 15 minutes into the contest as a Katy Frierson shot ricocheted off a defender and past keeper Ashley Baker to give Auburn (11-7-2) the early 1-0 lead. Despite dominating in the shot column and heading into halftime leading 8-4 in that category, Georgia was unable to find the back of the net in the first half.
Georgia opened the second half with intensity as sophomore attacker Susannah Dennis fired a shot that bounced just off the crossbar at the start of the second half. The Bulldogs continued to pepper Auburn keeper Amy Howard with shots and with just under 27:00 remaining in regulation Ashley Miller threaded a pass inside that just missed the foot of a Georgia player and crossed the end line to set up a Tiger goal kick coming the other way.
But the Bulldogs finally capitalized when Auburn was called for a foul in the 18 that was ruled an indirect kick, which was taken by senior defender Kelli Corless. The set piece set up Corless for a second-chance that she sent to Traci Dreesen in the middle. Dreesen fired a shot on frame that found its way past Howard for the equalizer in the 67th minute. It was the first of the season for Dreesen and her first since her freshman season.
Georgia continued to pressure after the tying goal, and with 3:40 left Miller had a shot hit the right post and out of danger. With under three to go, Howard was able to rope in an Alexa Newfield service just as Nicole Locandro was approaching in front, and with 1:20 on the clock Dennis had a shot sail high over the crossbar.
As time expired with the score still locked at one apiece, the Dogs held a decisive 21-7 edge in shots.
With under a minute to go in the first extra period, freshman Meghan Gibbons worked herself free on the right side and sent a cross over to the left where Miller was just a step off it.
Auburn ended the first 10:00 OT with three shots while Georgia was held without any and it was headed to double overtime. There, Auburn was called for a handball that Corless took, and had her shot poked away by Howard.
Then, in the 106th minute of action and with penalty kicks looming, Newfield took a Georgia corner kick that Powell ran on and headed past Howard for the game-winner to send the Bulldogs into the second round for the third time in the last four seasons.
“This game was huge in many ways,” said head coach Steve Holeman. “We got revenge from the last game we played against them, and we felt like we had played well enough to win that game. We’ll be fine [on short rest]. We have a quick turnaround which we’re not used to, but the girls will take care of their bodies tonight, they’ll recover and enjoy the win and we’ll be ready for Florida.”
Today’s first-round games were originally scheduled for yesterday in Orange Beach, but heavy rains made field conditions unplayable and all matches were rescheduled for today. In other first-round action, No. 2 seed South Carolina defeated seventh-seeded Kentucky via penalty kicks, while No. 6 LSU upset No. 3 Tennessee, 1-0, in overtime. Florida then posted two late goals to earn a 5-3 win over No. 8 Vanderbilt before the Georgia-Auburn showdown closed out the day.
The Gamecocks and Tigers will meet in tomorrow’s first semifinal game at 6 p.m. ET.
This season marks the Bulldogs’ sixth straight and 13th overall appearance in the conference tournament. Georgia is in search of its first tournament title.