Nov. 2, 2011
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. --- The No. 5-seeded Georgia soccer team saw its stay at the 2011 SEC Championships come to an end in the quarterfinals Wednesday evening, falling 2-0 to fourth-seeded Florida in the final game of the day at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Ala. The Gators got both goals from midfielder Tahani Annis on the night.
It is the second year in a row in which the Bulldogs were eliminated from the conference tournament by the Gators, dropping last season's semifinal match to UF by a 3-1 score. Georgia falls to 12-6-2 with the loss while Florida improves to 15-6-0 and moves on to face the eight-seed, Alabama, in Friday's semifinal after the Crimson Tide upset No. 1 and regular-season champion South Carolina 1-0.
The Bulldogs are winless in their last four outings and have not scored in the run of play since the 88th minute vs. Kentucky on Oct. 16.
"That goal they scored right before the half really hurt, but our team responded incredibly well," said head coach Steve Holeman. "Going down two goals to Florida, you'd think a team could fold at that point, but our team came back out and played hard, played well, and we created a lot of good opportunities. It was just too little too late."
Florida got on the board with its first goal in the 26th minute when Tahani Annis followed up a header from Lindsey Thompson into the bottom right corner just out of the reach of Georgia keeper Ashley Baker. Thompson hurt Georgia again after scoring all three goals in the semifinal win last season.
Just about three minutes after the goal, Georgia had a huge opportunity at the tying goal when Meghan Gibbons found Alexa Newfield in front and the sophomore attacker turned on the jets to find herself alone in front of keeper Taylor Burke, but Newfield's offering went right at Burke who pulled it in to avoid danger.
The Gators added their second goal just before the intermission coming off a corner kick opportunity as the ball was loose in front before Annis poked it past Baker from inside the six. That came with just 14 seconds left in the frame as Florida picked up the momentum with the two-goal lead at the break.
Shots were 8-3 in favor of UF at the intermission.
Georgia came out much stronger in the second half and had numerous opportunities to cut the lead in half. A big one came as, with 35 minutes to go in half No. 2, Jenna Owens had a shot blocked to set up a Newfield corner kick. The ball found Carli Shultis, who sent in a cross but the Gator defense cleared it out.
Moments later Shultis fought free on the left wing and sent it over to Jamie Pollock in the middle, but the senior's shot went high. In the 65th minute, Torri Allen fired a half volley at Burke, but the freshman again was up to the task to keep the Bulldogs out of the net. Burke then made a great diving stop on a shot by Shultis just after that after defender Bailey Powell had sent a booming pass upfield from the right back spot.
The Bulldogs continued to pressure the Gators late in the second half, and evened shots at 8-8 in the second frame, but were unable to find the back of the net as Florida held on to stay alive in Orange Beach.
Pollock led the Bulldogs with three shots on the night while Newfield and Shultis had two apiece. That brings Newfield to 98 on the season as she continues to build her school record for attempts in a season. Baker finished with six saves on the night.
Georgia is now 10-14-1 in SEC Championships play and 1-7 against Florida in the tournament. This was the Bulldogs' 14th overall and seventh straight SEC Tournament.
Georgia will await its NCAA Tournament fate when the field of 64 is announced in a live web stream on NCAA.com on Mon., Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. Georgiadogs.com will have full coverage of the Selection Show.