Sept. 24, 2010
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia soccer team got a corner-kick goal from senior defender Kelli Corless in the 67th minute and it stood up as the No. 17 Bulldogs defeated LSU, 1-0, in the SEC opener for both teams Friday night at the UGA Soccer Stadium. Georgia did so in front of a season-high crowd of 2,326 - its highest attendance since the 2003 season when they attracted 3,312 to a match vs. Illinois.
Corless stepped up for the set piece nearly 70 minutes into the contest and bent it inside the near post and over the keeper's hands to put Georgia in front 1-0. The Bulldogs held LSU scoreless for the remainder to capture their first shutout since Aug. 29 and move to 6-2-1 (1-0-0) on the year.
The Bulldogs jumped to 1-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007, and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Tigers (3-5-1). They continued their hot second-half play, tallying what was their 17th goal after halftime.
"This is big for us," said head coach Steve Holeman. "It's a new season and one of our goals is to win the conference. Every game counts and every game matters. The corner kick was the difference in the game and we played incredibly well tonight. We were due to score off a corner kick."
"We have a lot of depth on this team and a lot of players who can step up."
The teams played to a scoreless first half for the fourth time this season despite the Bulldogs holding a 9-2 lead in the shot column through the first 45:00.
With just under 33 minutes elapsed in the first, freshman Nicole Locandro sent a cross attempt through that bounced off an LSU defender and set up a Bulldog corner. On the set piece, Traci Dreesen sent a long pass in to Jamie Pollock who got her body on it, but it was handled by Tiger keeper Mo Isom.
About four minutes later, Locandro played the ball off a mistake by an LSU defender, but her shot went high as Georgia tacked on its sixth shot to that point with the visitors still in search of their first.
With the clock showing 15:40 in the opener, freshman Alexa Newfield fired one from 10 yards outside the 18 after pulling just away from the defense, but her open look sailed wide and it remained 0-0.
It was a battle for the next 10 minutes and with under four to play, freshman Meghan Gibbons played it up to classmate Carli Shultis who fired an attempt in from the far right that was blocked by the defense and cleared out. Georgia was possessing well in the waning moments before LSU exerted one final first-half effort that Corless and Torri Allen handled at the close of the period.
The second half started with neither side managing chances at the outset. Nearly 20 minutes in, Newfield fired a long one across the field but it went wide right after the rookie broke free on the far sideline and juked a pair of defenders.
The next sequence saw Corless step in for the corner, Georgia's SEC-leading 57th such opportunity of the season. The senior sent it perfectly through the box and over the defense, and Isom got her fingertips on it but it found its way through into the back of the net for Corless' first of the season. The defender scored two goals off corners in 2009. The goal marked the Bulldogs' first off a corner kick this year.
With 16:35 to play, Corless had another corner and Pollock got her head on it but it trickled wide left to keep the score where it was.
Georgia clamped down on defense in the second and actually kept LSU without a shot in the second half until the clock read 8:17. Georgia was able to keep the Tigers in control for the remainder and held on for the shutout win.
The final scoresheet saw Georgia leading in shots, 15-4, and in corners, 6-4. Neither goalkeeper was tested too intensely tonight as Ashley Baker logged three saves for Georgia and Isom two for LSU. Baker's shutout was her third of the season. Pollock led UGA with four shots, while Addie Eggleston took three of the Tigers' four.
Georgia is now 9-7 all-time in SEC openers. The team tonight avenged its forgettable 6-0 loss to the Tigers last season in Baton Rouge and moved to 7-4 in the series.
"Last year was uncharacteristic for us," Corless said of the loss in 2009. "This is a new team and a new focus this year. We were able to put it to them for 90 minutes, and that is momentum we can carry with us."
The Bulldogs tonight showed their support of a worthwhile cause, collecting donations for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia through the fourth annual SEC Together We CAN food drive. From September 17-26, each SEC school is participating in a league-wide food and donation drive to support food banks in its local area. The total donations from the schools will be weighed and announced following the drives. Last year the SEC family raised over 42,500 pounds of food and donations to benefit local food banks and shelters.
Georgia remains at home for its third straight home game, welcoming Arkansas to Athens this Sunday, Sept. 26 for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff. Live audio will be available on Georgiadogs.com in addition to live statistics.