Aug. 31, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. --- The Georgia soccer team used a pair of header goals off corner kicks to defeat Big East opponent South Florida 2-1 Friday night in neutral-site action in the first game of the UCF Tournament on the campus of Central Florida in Orlando.
Georgia scored in the 29th minute on a header from senior midfielder Susannah Dennis before conceding the tying goal just before halftime. The Bulldogs then received another tally the same way - this time off the head of redshirt freshman Bella Hartley - to retake the lead just three minutes after halftime and would hang onto it.
The win moves Georgia to 4-1 on the season - the Bulldogs' best start through five games since going 4-0-1 in 2009. USF falls to 2-2 with the loss.
"We faced a lot of adversity today - this is a moment when, as a coach and a staff, you're incredibly proud of your team," said head coach Steve Holeman. "We stepped up and battled even when they got the goal back at the end of the half. They stepped up and got the game-winner off a set piece. Set pieces can be the difference so many times. We had to call upon a lot of players tonight, and we played hard, grinded it out, and got the win today."
The Bulldogs took the lead in the 29th minute on their fifth corner kick chance of the game, as Shultis played a short ball inside to Locandro at the corner of the 6-yard box. Locandro played it right back to the foot of Shultis close to the sideline, and the junior sent a left-footed service inside the box where Dennis was waiting to head it home. Both players were credited with the helper on Dennis' first score of the season.
But USF answered late in the first frame on their own set piece opportunity. After the Bulls' free kick hit Georgia's wall initially, midfielder Taylor Patterson followed it up with a cross inside and Sharla Passariello finished with four minutes left before the break.
It remained even at 1-1 at the break, with the Bulls owning the edge in the shot column at 8-3 and Georgia keeper Ashley Baker recording four saves through the first 45:00.
The second half was all Georgia at the start, and just two minutes in Madeline Barker played a great seam ball up to Dennis, whose close-ranged shot was blocked by the Bulls keeper Christiane Endler to keep things tied. Georgia had another big chance just moments later as Shultis stayed on her defender and broke free to leave herself one-on-one against Endler, who came up with the poke save over the net.
But on the ensuing corner, Shultis sent a long ball into the box where Hartley was stationed, and the rookie didn't miss as she sent the header into the back of the net for her fourth goal in five games.
Georgia would own the run of play after that, responding offensively to fire 14 shots to South Florida's seven in the second half to finish up 17-14 in that category at the final whistle. The defense stepped up in front of Baker to preserve the one-goal lead, with Baker finishing with seven saves to tie her season-high. The Bulldogs held a commanding 12-2 lead on corners, and made them both count.
Georgia improves to 2-0 all-time vs. the Bulls and 6-4 vs. the Big East.
The Bulldogs are back in action here on Sunday, taking on host and ninth-ranked Central Florida at 2:30 p.m. Live audio and the live blog will be running on Georgiadogs.com.