Sept. 21, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --- The Georgia soccer team allowed two quick goals after halftime and could never recover, dropping its SEC road opener 2-1 to Alabama Friday night at the UA Soccer Complex in Tuscaloosa.
After the teams went into halftime scoreless, Alabama came out and scored a pair two minutes apart less than five minutes after the intermission and held on for the victory. The Bulldogs drop to 5-4-1 (1-1-1) while the Crimson Tide improves to 6-2-1 (1-1-1).
"What a fantastic game - this was a great Friday night SEC soccer match," said head coach Steve Holeman. "We left some chances out on the table in the first half. We go into halftime 0-0, then come out and have a defensive lapse and Alabama punished us for it. I like the way we fought back and got a goal. It was a great finish by Meghan Gibbons. It just wasn't enough in the end."
Georgia had some early chances at the goal to start the night, the first coming just nine minutes in when Madeline Barker had a shot kick off the far post and right into the hands of keeper Shelby Church. Barker had another opportunity four minutes later, but her shot was stopped by Church.
The Bulldogs' best chance of the first half came with six minutes left when Susannah Dennis' shot in open spaces was parried over the cross bar by Church to set up a Georgia corner, but Nikki Hill's cross on the set piece rolled out of trouble.
After 45:00 shots were dead even at 6-6 with Barker's two leading the way for Georgia. Baker had four saves at the break.
It was just 1:30 after the break when Alabama broke the tie, as leading scorer Katie Bourgeois took a pass from Pia Rijsdijk and sent it far post for the 1-0 lead in the 47th minute. Just over two minutes later, Rijsdijk sent up another one as she fed Molly Atherton, and Atherton sent it past Baker to put the Crimson Tide up 2-0 in the 49th minute.
The Bulldogs answered in the 56th minute when Gibbons gained control on a good ball from Hill, and fired one into the upper right corner from her spot on the left side of the box to cut it to 2-1.
Georgia gained the momentum for stretches after that in search of the equalizer, and continued to fire shots at Church. With 15 minutes to go in regulation, Chika Ibiam had a shot blocked to set up a corner. On the set piece, Tori Patterson got a head on it but the Alabama defense cleared it.
With eight to go in the second half, Barker had a shot go wide left, and moments later Gibbons and Carli Shultis each had shots blocked by the defense within seconds of each other.
The Bulldogs were then awarded a free kick from outside the 18 on the right with two minutes remaining, and Cooper got a foot on it in front but Church came up with the late save that would preserve the victory for the home side.
At the final whistle Georgia had the edge in shots 15-13, while Baker ended with seven saves for UGA. Gibbons' goal was her third of the season - all coming in the last two games.
The Bulldogs will head to Gainesville, Fla., to meet SEC Eastern Division rival Florida on Sunday for a 2 p.m. contest scheduled to air regionally on CSS and online at ESPN3.com and watchespn.com. Georgiadogs.com will offer live audio as well as the live blog.