Georgia Soccer Preps For Mississippi Road Trip

By: UGA Sports Communications
By: UGA Sports Communications

Athens, GA - The 18th-ranked Georgia soccer team will hit the road for the first time since Sept. 12, traveling to the state of Mississippi for a weekend swing vs. Ole Miss and Mississippi State. This weekend is the start of five consecutive road games for the Bulldogs.

Friday night's match-up with the Rebels will be an 8 p.m. ET kickoff in Oxford while Sunday will go at 2 p.m. ET in Starkville. Both will feature live audio from Kevin Copp in addition to live stats and the return of the Soccer Live Blog to give fans three ways to keep up with the action.

LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia soccer team got a first-half goal from senior forward Marah Falle and made it count as the Bulldogs earned a 1-0 decision Sunday over Vanderbilt at the UGA Soccer Stadium in a game nationally televised on ESPNU. Georgia jumped to 7-2-3 (2-0-2) after the Vandy victory and a 1-1 tie to Kentucky on Friday.

In the Kentucky game the Bulldogs fell behind for the first time since Aug. 20 when the Wildcats scored first, but Georgia knotted the equalizer with six and a half to play before the half on an Alexa Newfield goal. That first-half score stood up as neither team could find the net after halftime.

Keeper Ashley Baker put up her fifth shutout of the season vs. the Commodores.

LOOKING AT OLE MISS: The Rebels stand at 5-7-1 (1-3-0 SEC) on the year after a pair of 3-0 losses this past weekend at the hands of South Carolina and Florida. The Sunday outing vs. the Gators included some tough luck as the first UF score was actually an Ole Miss own-goal in the 21st minute.

The Georgia game kicks off a five-game homestand for the Rebels, who haven't played at home since Sept. 19.

Ole Miss is led far and away by Dylan Jordan's 15 points (7g, 1a) while Mandy McCalla and Taylor Cunningham each have two goals and four other players have scored once. Netminding duties have been split between Sarah Story and Alley Ronaldi, who are combining for 47 saves, four shutouts and a goals-against average of 1.51.

Georgia and Ole Miss are even at 7-7-1 in their all-time series, and the Rebels earned a 1-0 decision last season in Athens. Georgia holds a slim lead at 4-3 in games played in Oxford.

LOOKING AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Mississippi State closed its six-game road trip this past weekend on a bit of a rough note, allowing a combined 14 goals Friday and Sunday to Florida (7-1) and South Carolina (7-0).

The other Bulldogs are 7-6-0 on the year (0-4-0 SEC) after starting out 7-2 through the non-conference slate.

MSU is led by four goals apiece from Elisabeth Sullivan, Rachel Wannek, and Kim Pettit. Sullivan is adding four assists for a team-best 12 points. In goal, Skylar Rosson and Abby Risner have split time, posting a combined 87 saves and four shutouts.

Georgia is 9-3 all-time vs. Mississippi State including a two-game mini winning streak after last season's 2-1 home victory on Oct. 11. Starkville has been kind to Georgia, which is 4-1 all-time on the road vs. MSU.

SEC STANDINGS: With a conference record of 2-0-2 after two weeks, Georgia sits at third place in the always-competitive SEC Eastern Division behind undefeated Florida (4-0-0) and South Carolina (3-0-1). The Bulldogs are followed by Tennessee, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt in the East. Alabama (3-0-1) leads the West, followed by Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and MSU.

Georgia has finished with 7+ conference wins for three straight seasons.

The 2010 SEC Championships is set for Nov. 3-7 in Orange Beach, Ala.

STARTING STRONGER: The Georgia soccer team scored in the first half in each of its games this past weekend, but before that had not scored in the first 45:00 in four games dating back to Stanford Sept. 10. Predominantly a "second-half team" this season, the Bulldogs have outscored opponents 7-5 in the first half this season but lead 17-4 in second halves and overtime periods this season.

EXTRA TIME: After not playing a single overtime game all season in 2009, Georgia has played five already in 2010, including back-to-back on two occasions and both games out on the West Coast in the Stanford Nike Invitational. The Bulldogs are 1-1-3 in overtime this season.

HOLEMAN'S HOMECOMING: When the Bulldogs meet the Rebels in Oxford, Miss., on Friday, it will mark the return for head coach Steve Holeman - who spent 15 years at the helm of the Rebel program beginning with the inaugural season in 1995. Assistant coach Dan Blank will also be making his return to the Ole Miss campus. Blank spent three seasons working under Holeman in Oxford.

Holeman is the dean of SEC Soccer as he is the longest-tenured active coach in the conference after also spending one season at Auburn.

GEORGIA IN THE RPI: The Bulldogs were ranked No. 55 in the first ratings percentage index (RPI) released by the NCAA on Oct. 5. 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.

GEORGIA SOCCER PROFILED: The Georgia soccer team's recent trip to California is being profiled on this week's edition of "SEC Weekly" on ESPNU. The weekly program airs Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 5 p.m. ET with re-air times of Wednesday at 11 p.m., Thursday at 1 a.m., and Thursday at 1 p.m.

The Bulldogs traveled to Palo Alto, Calif., for games against nationally-ranked Stanford and Santa Clara back in September and spent some free time in nearby San Francisco. A feature about the trip originally aired on on Sept. 14.

KEEPING IT OUT OF THE NET: Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Baker notched a career-high 11 saves vs. Stanford on Sept. 10 and added 10 more against Santa Clara the following game. The Lilburn, Ga., native ranks tied for second in the SEC in saves (62), third in save percentage (0.873), and third in saves per game (5.17). Her save percentage is tied for 16th in the NCAA ranks.

The Bulldogs have given up only nine goals all season (0.75 per game) and have posted five shutouts, tied for third most in the conference.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Georgia soccer incoming class of 14 was highly touted all offseason, and the group has not disappointed. Through 12 games in 2010, the freshmen have scored 14 of 24 goals (58%) while adding 12 of 25 total assists (48%) and 40 of 73 points (55%). Freshmen have logged three of Georgia's seven game-winning goals in 2010.

Five freshmen -- Meghan Gibbons, Alexa Newfield, Torri Allen, Carli Shultis, and Nicole Locandro -- have earned starting spots this season. Torri Allen has been crucial to the Bulldog backline, and even came up with a defensive save against Kentucky last Friday that proved to be a game-saver.

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 continue the six-game road swing when they travel to nationally-ranked South Carolina and Florida next weekend. Georgia meets the Gamecocks on Friday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in Columbia, S.C., and the Gators on Sunday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. in Gainesville, Fla., in two crucial SEC East outings.

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