Oct. 23, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- In a game that saw three penalty kicks and three goals in a span of 73 seconds in the second half, the Georgia soccer team played to a 2-2 tie with Alabama Sunday afternoon in front of a "Pink Out" crowd of 1,758 at the UGA Soccer Stadium and in front of a television audience on CSS.
The Bulldogs - who extend their unbeaten streak to six games going 4-0-2 during that span - stand at 12-4-2 (6-2-2) with just one regular-season game remaining.
"We didn't generate a lot of goals today but we had a lot of opportunities," said head coach Steve Holeman. "We hit the crossbar a bunch of times and missed a few sitters. We need to learn to put those away. It was a disappointing tie for us - we knew we needed to win to stay in the hunt for the SEC title and we let this one slip away. Nevertheless, we need to put this one behind us and look forward."
After Alexa Newfield put Georgia on top with a penalty kick conversion in the 23rd minute, Alabama tied things in the 71st with a header goal off a corner, before Newfield added her second PK goal of the game just 23 seconds later to push the Bulldogs back in front, 2-1. But the Crimson Tide responded with their own penalty kick goal just 50 seconds after that to tie it at 2-2, and it finished that way despite Georgia's seven shots in extra time.
The Bulldogs ended the day barely outshooting Alabama by a count of 27-25, good for Georgia's second-highest output of the season.
Newfield took 11 of those, marking the second time this season she has taken double-digit shots, breaking her own school record of 87 in a season set last year as she now has 93 in 2011. Newfield's two-goal effort marks her fifth multi-goal effort of the season and sixth of her career as she also had two goals in last year's 3-0 win over the Crimson Tide on the road in Tuscaloosa. Newfield's 15 season goals are good for third all-time in Georgia history behind only Stephanie Yarem's 18 in 1997 and Jessica Winton's 16 in 2003. Her 23 career goals through less than two seasons is already tied for fifth all-time in the Georgia record book.
The sophomore is now 5-for-5 on penalty kick chances this season.
The first of those came 22:06 into the contest to break the scoreless tie after an Alabama player was whistled for a handball inside the box. Newfield stepped in to take it and fired it into the bottom right corner for her 14th score of the season to give Georgia the 1-0 lead.
Alabama was dangerous in the attacking third in the first half, ending with 11 shots to Georgia's eight, though unable to find the back of the net in the first 45:00.
Georgia had one of several chances ding off the crossbar with 33 minutes to go in the second half as Nikki Hill dropped back to Carli Shultis on the left side and the cross by Shultis found Jenna Owens open in front, but the rookie's one-time header was denied by the post.
After the Crimson Tide's offensive output in the first half, Georgia quickly fired five straight shots to take a 14-12 lead in that category and continuing to knock on the door for that second goal.
But Alabama would tie it first as Ashley Willis sent a perfect service in from the right flag on a corner kick, finding the head of teammate Kaitlyn Smith for her second of the year to make it 1-1 in the 71st minute.
Just moments later Alabama was called for another handball in the box and Newfield put that one away as the Bulldogs took the 2-1 lead. But just like that, Alabama put away its own PK after a Georgia defender was called for a foul and UA's Theresa Diederich made it count, logging her sixth of the season past Georgia netminder Ashley Baker to even it at 2-2.
Hovering down around 13 minutes to go in regulation, Hill found Meghan Gibbons open in the middle, and the sophomore quickly turned and fired but the shot went high of the frame. With 10 to play, Miller tapped one upfield to Newfield, who was just barely a step behind on what would have left her 1-v-1 with Crimson Tide goalie Justine Bernier.
Georgia peppered Bernier with shots in the first OT, finishing with five in the first 10:00 of extra time. The best chance came as Owens found Newfield in front and the forward just barely mishit her header attempt and the ball trickled wide. Alabama didn't take a shot in the first overtime.
Georgia had its share of chances in the second OT as well, as Owens found Newfield again in the middle but the shot was just barely wide right with 5:20 to go.
Alabama had a scary chance of its own with a point-blank shot sailing high from just outside the six-yard box as the clock neared 1:40. Miller would have one final chance as time expired in the 110th minute, but Bernier pulled it in as the teams were forced to settle for the draw.
Georgia ended up by two in the shot column while the visitors took three corners to UGA's two. Baker made nine saves on the afternoon for Georgia after logging a shutout in the Bulldogs' last outing vs. Auburn on Thursday.
AU falls to 8-7-3 (3-5-2) with today's tie. Georgia is now 11-3-1 all-time vs. Alabama as today snapped the Bulldogs' six-game winning streak over its opponent from the SEC West.
The Bulldogs will look to fight for position in the upcoming SEC Championships Nov. 2-6 as Georgia hosts Tennessee to close the regular season next Fri., Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. on Senior Night.