Orlando, FL - The Georgia soccer team battled through 90 minutes of scoreless play with ninth-ranked Central Florida on Sunday afternoon before the Knights put in the game-winner with 24 seconds left in the first overtime to steal a 1-0 win over Georgia in the final game of the UCF Invitational in Orlando.
The Bulldogs (4-2) were forced to settle for the weekend split here after Friday night’s 2-1 win over South Florida. Georgia senior netminder Ashley Baker roped in a career-high 13 saves on the day before allowing the game-winner in the 100th minute off the foot of Tishia Jewell. The play unfolded after a Georgia foul at the edge of the 18-yard box, and after the set piece the Knights capitalized on a loose ball that Baker couldn’t catch up with.
“UCF was as good as advertised,” said head coach Steve Holeman. “We knew they were talented and easily the best team we’ve faced this year. They moved the ball incredibly well. There are really no weaknesses in that lineup. They outshot us, had more corners, everything. They were the better team, however we played hard and battled until the end. Ashley Baker made some great saves and our defense was solid. This is tough.”
Georgia was outshot by UCF in the first half by a count of 12-4, with the Bulldogs’ best chance of the frame coming from Alexa Newfield with 15 minutes left. Newfield worked herself a step away from the defender and fired a shot that the keeper had to leap to corral just underneath the crossbar.
Baker had eight saves in the first half and continued to keep her team in it in the second, and after the Bulldogs had kept it scoreless with under five minutes to go in regulation, the Knights were awarded two corner kicks in a row that Georgia was able to handle. The Bulldogs had a chance of their own the other way as the clock was winding down in the second half, which amounted to a Nicole Locandro shot that was stopped by the keeper.
Baker came up with another big save with under two minutes to go, diving to bat away a shot on a one-on-one opportunity from the right flank.
UCF had two shots early in overtime, one that went wide and one that Baker handled, before the foul was called on the Bulldogs with under a minute left, and Jewell was there to finish the free kick into the back of the net for the game-winner.
The Bulldogs had seen success in overtime of late, entering today with a combined record of 5-0-1 in extra time over the past two seasons. Earlier in 2012 Georgia came away with a 1-0 win over UNC Greensboro in OT in the season opener.
The Knights finished with the edge in shots, 20-6, with Baker’s 13 saves jumping out on the box score. Georgia is now 2-1 all-time vs. UCF.
Georgia’s trio of forward Carli Shultis, midfielder Susannah Dennis, and defender Torri Allen were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances on the weekend.
The Bulldogs return home from this four-game road trip to host New Mexico in the final non-conference game of the season next Fri., Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. in Athens.