Aug. 19, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Redshirt freshman midfielder Bella Hartley earned the first start of her collegiate career on Sunday afternoon and made it count, scoring her first goal as a Bulldog in the 83rd minute to lift Georgia to a 2-1 win over Furman at the UGA Soccer Stadium.
After sitting out the 2011 season following knee surgery, Hartley has seen good minutes in the early-going of 2012 and earned the game-winner today. The Bulldogs improve to 2-0 on the early season after its weekend sweep over the Paladins and UNC Greensboro on Friday night in double overtime. Furman drops to 1-1 with today's loss.
"Before I went in I thought I had to find a way to get the ball on frame," Hartley said. "It came to me, I turned and thought, `I have to bomb this.' Thankfully it hit the back of the net. It's a great feeling since I've had to come back from surgery to get my first goal."
"We went in the locker room at halftime and talked about getting it done and winning this game," she said. "We didn't want to go to overtime again."
Georgia had its first big chance of the day with under 38 minutes showing on the clock when Nicole Locandro threaded a great ball through to Meghan Gibbons, but the forward's shot sailed just high of the mark. Moments later Madeline Barker fought herself free in the middle and pulled the ball back to her left foot for an open look, but her offering went just high as well.
Georgia continued to keep the pressure on Furman, dominating the run of play and peppering keeper Rose Hull with shots. The Bulldogs finally broke through when, with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half, Georgia had a chance in front that the Paladin back line was able to cover up, but the ball bounced out to left back Nikki Hill, who fired it back into Furman's end and past the keeper Hull for her second career goal and first of the season to put the home team up 1-0.
But just over three minutes later, Furman answered as Alyssa Althoff served a ball over to Hannah Stanifer in front, who headed it past Georgia's Ashley Baker for the equalizer in the 38th minute.
The teams would enter the locker rooms at halftime tied 1-1, with shots going 8-7 in Georgia's favor.
In the second half the Bulldogs saw a great oportunity with the clock hovering around 37 minutes to play when Barker raced down the sideline and sent a laser of a cross across the goal mouth from the right wing, but no one was there to put it home. With under 34 minutes left in regulation, Hill sent a great service in that found Barker's head, but the shot went wide right.
With 27 minutes to go Furman had a big chance of its own as Ali Simpson fired a rocket from long-range that went just high of the frame.
Still tied at 1-1 late in the second half and with Georgia pulling well in front in the shot column, Hartley found herself free on the left side outside the 18-yard box, and unloaded on the shot that found the upper 90, putting the Bulldogs up 2-1 with seven minutes to play. Georgia then weathered any final chances from Furman to hang on for the victory and the weekend sweep.
In all, Georgia fired 19 shots to Furman's 12 while allowing the Paladins just one corner kick chance on the day. Baker made seven saves in goal for Georgia, while Hull and Maggie Grisell - who allowed the game-winner - combined to stop six UGA shots.
"It's fantastic - that's mentality," said head coach Steve Holeman. "Our team grinded, they battled it out. Any coach will tell you a Sunday game is not the same as a Friday night. We had to call on our bench players to step in and, Bella Hartley, welcome to college."
Next up Georgia will see back-to-back weekend road trips, first traveling to Lawrence, Kan., to take on Kansas and South Dakota State Aug. 24-26. Then the Bulldogs will make the trip to Orlando, Fla., to meet South Florida and host UCF on Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, respectively. Georgia's next home game comes Fri., Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. vs. New Mexico to round out the non-conference slate.