Gibbons' Hat Trick Lifts Georgia Soccer



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Sept. 5, 2010

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ATLANTA --- Freshman Meghan Gibbons scored three goals and fellow rookie Nicole Locandro added two to lead the Georgia soccer team to a 5-1 win over in-state rival Georgia State Sunday afternoon at the GSU Soccer Field. The win was the Bulldogs’ fourth straight and pushed the squad to 4-1 on the year.

Since getting shut out by Duke in the season-opener, the 25th-ranked Bulldogs have scored 16 goals in their past four outings. With today’s 3+ goal game, Georgia has now scored three or more in their last four to do so for the first time in program history.

The loss was Georgia State’s first of the season as the Panthers fall to 3-1. Georgia is now 11-0-2 all-time against the Peach State foe.

“We played for 90 minutes today, came out hard, and took the game to Georgia State,” said head coach Steve Holeman. “They are a great team and I think after our third goal it kind of did them in a little. It was a battle today and we’re happy with the 5-1 result.”

Georgia struck first on the day when Locandro took a Jamie Pollock pass from outside the box and fired it into traffic. It appeared as though it fooled GSU keeper Heidi Blankenship but found its way just inside the near post and put the Bulldogs on the board at the 23:52 mark of the first half.

Georgia State answered less than three minutes later when leading scorer Sarah Bennett received the ball on her foot on the right of the 18 and flicked it over the hands of Ashley Baker into the bottom right to even it at 1-1.

But another freshman put the Bulldogs back on top, as Gibbons took a Laura Eddy pass on the left and sent it past Blankenship for the 2-1 advantage with under four to play in the first half. The play started with Eddy in the midfield as she dribbled upfield and threaded one through the middle to Gibbons, who turned perfectly to open herself up for the look.

It remained 2-1 at halftime, with the Bulldogs outshooting the Panthers 13-3 and not yet allowing a corner kick.

Locandro picked Georgia up right where it left off and put away her second of the day early in the second half, firing a rocket from the right corner of the box past the keeper in the 57th minute. Locandro’s second of the day and fourth of the season was assisted by Ashley Miller’s cross, making it 3-1 in favor of the visitors.

Gibbons added the fourth and fifth goals later in the half and made it 4-1 when she took a pass from Carli Shultis to notch her second of the afternoon in the 68th minute.

The Bulldogs continued to keep the pressure on and went deep into the bench late. Gibbons completed the hat trick in the 73rd minute when she fired a rocket past the keeper for her team-leading fifth of the season. That one was unassisted as Gibbons created the opportunity from the corner of the 18.

Gibbons today turned in her second multi-goal outing of the year after tallying two in the Kansas game last weekend. Georgia freshmen have now accounted for 11 of the team’s 16 goals.

“Once I get started, it’s just about seeing their weaknesses and exploiting them,” Gibbons said. “It feels good. On Friday [after the Mercer game] we talked about not taking teams lightly, and we came out here and proved that it shouldn’t be like that.”

“My confidence is high. It’s a good feeling. It’s my job as a forward to score and I hope more keeps coming.”

Locandro and Gibbons ended the day leading Georgia with four shots apiece, while Miller had three. Georgia outpaced the Panthers 21-4 in that category, continuing to hold the opposition to limited opportunities. The team is now allowing only eight shots per game through the first five. Baker was tested just once in goal, making one save.

Georgia remained perfect on the weekend after Friday night’s come-from-behind victory over Mercer in Macon, Ga. The Bulldogs scored in double overtime there to down the Bears, 3-2.

Next on the slate for the Bulldogs is next weekend’s tilt with second-ranked and 2009 national runner-up Stanford on the road in Palo Alto, Calif. Sunday will pit the Bulldogs against eighth-ranked Santa Clara also on Stanford’s campus. Keep up with the action with a live blog on Georgiadogs.com.

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