No. 20 Georgia Soccer Facing Critical Weekend

By: UGA Sports Communications
By: UGA Sports Communications

Athens, GA - The 20th-ranked Georgia soccer team has a chance to take matters into its own hand this weekend as the Bulldogs will take on two of the three teams currently in front of them in the SEC East standings in No. 14 South Carolina and No. 13 Florida.

Georgia will play its second consecutive SEC road weekend when it travels to Columbia, S.C., for Friday’s 7 p.m. meeting with the Gamecocks before heading to Gainesville, Fla., for Sunday’s 2 p.m. tilt with the Gators. The Florida game will be televised live on CSS. Both contests will feature live audio with Kevin Copp doing play-by-play, in addition to live statistics and the Soccer Live Blog on Georgiadogs.com.

Georgia is currently in fourth place in the East by a hair (12 pts), just one point behind Florida and Tennessee with 13 each. South Carolina leads the division with 16 points. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks are the only unbeatens remaining in Southeastern Conference action. Georgia’s run of eight straight games without a loss is the longest streak in the conference.

LAST TIME OUT: Georgia scored three goals for the sixth time season as the Bulldogs posted a 3-0 shutout over Mississippi State last Sunday at the MSU Soccer Field in Starkville. The squad was paced by sophomore Laura Eddy, who scored a goal and added an assist for a three-point afternoon. Jamie Pollock and Alexa Newfield also scored goals.

Georgia remains unbeaten in SEC play at 3-0-3 while moving to 8-2-4 overall. The weekend finished 1-0-1 for the Dogs, who tied Ole Miss 0-0 Friday night in Oxford, Miss., in head coach Steve Holeman’s homecoming game, despite taking a season-best 29 shots. Ashley Baker totaled seven saves in all through the pair of shutouts, on her way to SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Georgia remained perfect at 6-0 when scoring multiple goals in a game.

LOOKING AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The 14th-ranked SEC East-leading Gamecocks are the only other unbeaten team in the SEC, standing at 5-0-1 in conference and 11-2-2 overall.

South Carolina has won five straight and is unbeaten in its last seven dating back to a 3-1 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 16. The Gamecocks are outscoring opponents 32-8 and posting 2.13 goals per game, good for second in the SEC. Individually, reigning National Player of the Week Kayla Grimsley leads the conference in scoring (9), assists (9), and points (27). Brooke Jacobs has six goals and two players have four each. In goal, Mollie Patton has logged eight shutouts, totaling 46 saves and a goals against average of just 0.53.

Georgia is 11-4-3 all-time against the Gamecocks including last season’s 2-1 regular-season upset in Athens. South Carolina got revenge, however, as they edged the Bulldogs by a 3-2 score in the first round of the 2009 SEC Championships.

LOOKING AT FLORIDA: The No. 13 Gators are tied for second in the SEC with their record of 10-2-2 (4-1-1). They have outscored opponents 32-8 to post a league-leading 2.29 goals-per-game average.

McKenzie Barney leads the Gators with nine goals and three assists for 21 points, putting her first in goals per game and tied for first in total goals in the SEC. Also with 21 points is Tahnai Annis, tallying eight goals and five assists. Two players have three goals and two have two, while 10 players have scored in all. Katie Fraine has spent the majority of time in goal for the Gators, logging 51 saves and a 0.58 goals against averageon her way to six shutouts.

Georgia is 2-19-1 all-time in the series, beating Florida for the first time in 2007. Last season the Bulldogs dropped a tight 1-0 contest to the Gators in Athens.

RANKED FOES: The Gamecocks and Gators will be Georgia’s fourth and fifth ranked opponents of the season and first since taking on then-No. 2 Stanford and No. 9 Santa Clara in Palo Alto, Calif., Sept. 10-12. Georgia is 0-2-1 this season against ranked oppnents and 19-49-6 all-time. The Bulldogs’ biggest win in program history came last season when they upset No. 5 South Carolina, 2-1, in 2009.

SEC STANDINGS: With a conference record of 3-0-3 after two weeks, Georgia sits at fourth place in the always-competitive SEC Eastern Division behind South Carolina (5-0-1), Florida (4-1-1) and Tennessee (4-1-1). Georgia is followed by Vanderbilt and Kentucky to round out the division.

In the West, Alabama is in first at 3-1-2, while Auburn is 3-3-0 to hold onto second place. LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State make up the rest of the West.

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

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.

GEORGIA IN THE NCAA: Individually, keeper Ashley Baker ranks 12th in the NCAA in save percentage (.885) and 24th in goals against average (0.594). As a team, the Bulldogs rank seventh in overall save percentage (.886), 20th in goals against average (0.594), 30th in shutout percentage (.500), 42nd in W-L-T percentage (.714), and 63rd in goals per game (1.93).

EXTRA TIME: After not playing a single overtime game all season in 2009, Georgia has played six 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 1-1-4 in overtime this season, most recently tying Ole Miss 0-0 on the road in Oxford, Miss., on Oct. 8. The program record for overtimes in a season is eight (2002).

GEORGIA IN THE RPI: 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.

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 third in the SEC in goals allowed (9), third in goals against average (0.59), tied for second in shutouts (7) and sixth in saves (70).

Her .885 save percentage ranks 12th in the NCAA statistics while her 0.594 goals against average is 24th.

The Bulldogs have given up only nine goals all season and have posted eight shutouts.

Baker’s current shutout streak of three full games plus part of another total 389:25, good for the longest SEC scoreless run in school history and second longest overall behind Nicole Williams’ eight-game shutout streak in 1999.

Her performance vs. Ole Miss and MSU earned her first SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: The Georgia soccer incoming class of 14 was highly touted all offseason, and the group has not disappointed. Through 14 games in 2010, the freshmen have scored 15 of 27 goals (56%), while adding 15 of 29 assists (52%) for 45 of 83 total points (54%). The frosh have logged four of eight game-winners in 2010.

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: Georgia wraps up its road trip with next week’s rare Thursday night meeting with the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs return home for their final regular-season game at the UGA Soccer Stadium when they host Auburn on Sun., Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. ET in a game televised on FSN. The Auburn game will serve as Senior Day for the program’s six seniors. The regular-season finale comes Oct. 29 on the road in Knoxville as the Bulldogs take on Tennessee at 7 p.m.


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