Athens, GA - The Georgia soccer team got two goals from junior Meghan Gibbons just over two minutes apart in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Arkansas at the UGA Soccer Stadium, good for the Bulldogs’ first Southeastern Conference victory of the season.
With the win Georgia finishes the opening weekend of conference play unblemished including Friday night’s 0-0 tie with Vanderbilt here, as UGA now sits at 5-3-1 (1-0-1) on the season.
“It was important for the team and for the forwards mentally to get a goal today,” Gibbons said. “We’ve had some trouble scoring and sometimes that’s a mental block, so we needed to get the first one and I know they’ll keep coming now. This was an important win for our team and we’re very happy about it. It’ll give us some momentum heading into some road games next weekend.”
“This was a much-needed win,” added head coach Steve Holeman. “We were at home and you have to protect your home field. The defense has been doing their jobs, and it was fantastic for the offense to come in and score two today. We needed this and we got it, so we have to use it going forward.”
After the two teams played a scoreless first half with shots locked at five apiece, the Bulldogs came alive offensively out of the locker room as shots wound up 13-1 in Georgia’s favor after intermission. It didn’t take long to break the tie as the Bulldogs got their first score of the day in the 48th minute with Carli Shultis starting the play on the left side, feeding a header up to Gibbons, who took a touch and sent it past the keeper for the 1-0 Georgia lead.
But Gibbons wasn’t finished, as the Texas native then took a service from Nikki Hill inside the box and volleyed it past the keeper for the 2-0 advantage just two minutes later. It was the third multi-goal game of Gibbons’ career, who today tallied her first two goals of the 2012 season.
The Georgia defense made sure to lock down after getting the lead, allowing just the one Arkansas shot in the final 45:00 of action as goalkeeper Ashley Baker captured her second consecutive shutout and third of the season, while the Bulldogs have now kept the opposition scoreless for four straight halves.
The Bulldogs had some additional scoring chances in the second half, including a good look for junior attacker Madeline Barker, who fired one at the keeper off a tap up field from Bella Hartley, but the Razorbacks’ Kelly Roliard came up with the stop. With under four minutes to go, Barker had another shot get blocked to set up a Georgia corner kick.
Georgia ended outshooting Arkansas by a count of 18-6, including that 13-1 margin after halftime. Baker was tested just three times in goal in collecting the blank sheet, while Gibbons and Susannah Dennis led the way in the stat column offensively, each taking four shots on the day. Shultis and Hill were credited with assists on Gibbons’ goals.
Georgia improves to 10-2-3 all-time vs. the Razborbacks, who drop to 3-5-0 (0-2-0) with today’s loss. The Bulldogs have gotten goals from eight different players in 2012.
Georgia is on the road next weekend for the first time in SEC play, traveling to meet Alabama on Fri., Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, Ala., before heading to Gainesville, Fla., to take on the 22nd-ranked Gators on Sun., Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised on CSS. Georgiadogs.com will offer live audio coverage and the live blog for both games.