Athens, GA - The Georgia soccer team concludes the 2010 regular season when it travels to meet SEC East rival Tennessee this Friday, Oct. 29 for a 7 p.m. kickoff at UT’s Regal Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. The game carries huge conference implications as the Bulldogs are currently just one point behind the Lady Volunteers in the Eastern Division standings and overall with a chance to leapfrog back into third place. The loser will earn the overall No. 4 seed for the conference tournament.
Georgia stands at 10-4-4 (5-2-3) on the season following a split vs. Alabama and Auburn last weekend. The Bulldogs earned a 3-0 win over the Crimson Tide last Thursday on the road in Tuscaloosa and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Tigers at home on Sunday on Senior Day. Still, the Bulldogs have secured no worse than a fourth-place overall finish in the SEC and clinched their sixth straight bid to the SEC Championships in Orange Beach, Ala.
Kevin Copp will be on the call with live audio, while live stats for the Tennessee game will be available on the schedule page on Georgiadogs.com.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia soccer team rallied to tie the score in the second half but allowed the game-winner in the 77th minute, suffering a 2-1 loss to Auburn Sunday at the UGA Soccer Stadium in front of a season-high crowd of 2,417 and the largest since 2003. It was Georgia’s first home SEC loss of 2010.
Auburn struck first just 6:05 into the game off a corner kick. Katy Frierson took the kick and sent it inside to an awaiting Maddie Barnes, who headed it past keeper Ashley Baker for her first of the season. It was the Tigers’ first goal in a first half in seven games. Despite leading in shots, 9-4, at the break, Georgia went into the locker room facing the 1-0 deficit.
The Georgia goal finally came nearly 20 minutes into the second half as Ashley Miller had a shot blocked to set up a Georgia corner. Dreesen stepped in for it, sending it to freshman Madeline Barker who touched it over to Susannah Dennis on the right side of the 18, and the sophomore placed a perfect ball into the near corner to even the score at 1-1. It was her fourth of the season.
The Tigers took the lead back, however, at the 76:41 mark when Gabi Rivera fired one from the right side just inside the far post the make it 2-1 on her third of the season, and it would remain there as AU held on for the road win to spoil Senior Day.
LOOKING AT TENNESSEE: The Lady Vols are coming off their second straight overtime win as Tennessee (9-8-1, 6-3-1 SEC) got a sudden-victory goal from junior Emily Dowd to defeat Alabama, 1-0, Sunday in Knoxville in the 105th minute. The win coupled with Georgia’s loss to Auburn that afternoon bumped UT in front of the Bulldogs in the SEC East by one point, securing Tennessee’s 13th straight bid to the conference tournament. Tennessee -- Georgia’s normal travel partner -- featured the opposite schedule this weekend, taking on Auburn first followed by the Crimson Tide. They also earned an overtime win over the Tigers, taking that one 1-0 in the first OT Thursday in Auburn, Ala.
In the overall statistics, Tennessee is paced through the first 18 by both Dowd and Chelsea Hatcher with seven goals apiece. Hatcher’s four assists leaves her with 18 total points to lead the team. The junior’s 94 shots on the season lead the SEC by 19 (Georgia’s Alexa Newfield is next with 75). In goal the Vols have looked to Molly Baird, who has started all 18 games and logged 1,660 minutes of action. Baird owns a stat line of 1.57 goals against, 76 saves, five shutouts, and a 0.724 save percentage. Her two-shutout weekend vs. the Alabama schools earned her SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors Oct. 25.
Georgia trails the all-time series with Tennessee, 10-7, but the Bulldogs had the last laugh earning a 2-1 decision last year in Athens. The Dogs are just 1-6 all-time in Knoxville.
HIGH-POWERED OFFENSES: Friday’s game will pit two teams against one another who each have noses for the goal. As of this week, the Bulldogs and Lady Vols are tied for the conference lead in shots, each with 346 for an average of 19.22 per game. UT’s Chelsea Hatcher leads the conference with shots with 94 (5.22 per game), while Georgia’s Alexa Newfield is second with 75 (4.17 per game).
Georgia (33) and Tennessee (32) are third and fourth in the SEC in goals scored.
SEC STANDINGS: Georgia slipped into fourth place in the SEC East with Sunday’s loss to Auburn coupled with a Tennessee win over Alabama. Currently Georgia has 18 points in the league to trail the Volunteers by just one point (19). South Carolina and Florida are tied atop the division with 25 points. Vanderbilt (14) and Kentucky (11) round out the East.
In the West, Auburn took over the lead as they now have 14 points followed by LSU and Ole Miss each with 12. Alabama (11), Arkansas (8), and Mississippi State (0) make up the rest of that side.
The 2010 SEC Championships is set for Nov. 3-7 in Orange Beach, Ala., which is comprised of the top eight teams in the conference regardless of division. Teams get three points for a win in conference and one for a tie.
RIGHTING THE SHIP: Following each of Georgia’s four losses this season, the Bulldogs have turned things around a in a hurry, either winning or tying the following game. In fact, after Georgia’s first loss in the season opener, the Bulldogs were undefeated through their next four and after their second loss they did not lose again for nine more games.
This season would be the third time in program history the Bulldogs did not lose back-to-back games (2007, 2009). The last time Georgia lost two straight was nearly two years ago, Nov. 9 & 14, 2008, in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. Their last back-to-back regular-season losses were Sept. 21 & 26, 2008.
EARLY & OFTEN: With Alexa Newfield’s goal just 3:46 into the Alabama game, the rookie from Atlanta had scored in the first four minutes in three of the last four games. She scored just 3:09 in vs. Mississippi State, 3:13 in vs. South Carolina, and 3:46 vs. the Tide. Overall, Georgia has scored in the first 15 minutes in four of its last five games as Laura Eddy got Georgia on the board in the 12th minute vs. Florida.
After the early part of the season saw the Bulldogs do most of their scoring after halftime, Georgia has put up stronger first halves of late, scoring first in five of their last seven. Overall, the Dogs scored 17 of their first 22 goals in the second half but have since scored eight of the last 10 in the opening 45:00.
IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY: ... Freshman Alexa Newfield would be just one shots shy of the Georgia single-season record of 76 set in 1998 by Mandy Aiken ... keeper Ashley Baker would be in second all-time in goals-against average with a total of 0.68, behind only Lauren Church’s mark of 0.59 in 2005 ... Georgia would be the fourth seed on the “Road to Orange Beach,” slated to take on fifth-seeded Vanderbilt.
GEORGIA IN THE NCAA: As a team, the Bulldogs stack up in a pair of statistical categories across Division I. Georgia is 13th in save percentage (0.875) and 16th in shutout percentage (0.500).
GEORGIA IN THE RPI: Georgia came in at No. 41 in the lastest RPI released Oct. 26. Following the South Carolina win and a tough one in Gainesville, Georgia was No. 43 in the third RPI release before jumping two spots this week.
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 55 in the first ratings percentage index (RPI) released by the NCAA on Oct. 5 and No. 56 in week two Oct. 12.
The RPI is the most important criteria used by the NCAA to determine the 64-team field for the NCAA Tournament, comparing results and strength of schedule.
Additional RPI rankings will be tabulated on Oct. 26 and Nov. 7 in addition to the final tally announced Dec. 7 following the College Cup.
KEEPING IT OUT OF THE NET: The Bulldogs have given up only 13 goals all season and have posted nine shutouts, seven in the SEC.
Heading up to the first Florida goal on Oct. 17, Ashley Baker had gone 4+ games without giving up a goal, totaling 561:08 of scoreless soccer in goal for Georgia. That streak was good for the longest SEC scoreless run in school history and second longest overall behind Nicole Williams’ eight-game shutout streak in 1999.
Georgia has allowed only five goals in SEC play with one to go. The Bulldogs have never allowed fewer than eight goals in the conference slate.
Baker’s performance vs. Ole Miss and MSU two weeks ago earned the keeper her first ever SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
BAKER STACKING UP: Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Baker has been lights out in goal for Georgia this season, and even more so in SEC games.
The Lilburn, Ga., native ranks first in the conference in save percentage (.874), tied for first in shutouts (9), third in goals against average (0.68), fourth in saves (90), and fifth in saves per game (5.00).
In league play, Baker sits atop three different goalkeeping statistical categories, including GAA (0.47), save percentage (.898), shutouts (7), and shutouts per game (0.70). Georgia has allowed goals in only three SEC games.
In the NCAA standings, Baker is 16th in save percentage nationally.
EXTRA TIME: After not playing a single overtime game all season in 2009, Georgia has played seven already in 2010, just one shy of the program record eight played in 2002. The Bulldogs are 1-2-4 in OT games this season, most recently falling 2-1 in the first extra period to the Florida Gators Oct. 17 in Gainesville, Fla.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Georgia soccer incoming class of 14 was highly touted all offseason, and the group has not disappointed. Through 18 games in 2010, the freshmen have scored 19 of 33 goals (58%), while adding 16 of 33 assists (48%) for 54 of 99 total points (55%). The frosh have logged six of 10 game-winners.
The biggest testament to the strength of the class was the Bulldogs’ two-week sweep of the SEC Freshman of the Week honors. The first two weekly awards went to Newfield and Locandro, respectively, on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Bulldogs will next turn their attention to the 2010 SEC Championships Nov. 3-7 in Orange Beach, Ala. Georgia is searching for its first conference tournament title.