Georgia To Open With UNCG, Furman

Mic'd Up with Coach Holeman - Part 1

Aug. 15, 2012

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ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia soccer team will kick off the 2012 season this weekend with a pair of home games, welcoming UNC Greensboro and Furman to the UGA Soccer Stadium for Friday-Sunday outings, respectively. Georgia will take on the Spartans on Friday night, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. followed by the Paladins on Sunday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m. in Athens.

Georgia will offer live video coverage for both contests on Georgiadogs.com with commentary from Kevin Copp - beginning just prior to kickoff. Live scoring can also be found on Georgiadogs.com.

"We feel good - it's hard to believe it's here," said third-year head coach Steve Holeman. "You wake up each day and say `Hey, there's only three days left, then there's two, then the next thing you know it's here. We feel good about where we are - we have a lot of experience, we've seen some good things during preseason, and we're ready to go."

Georgia in Season Openers: The Bulldogs are 13-2-2 all-time in season openers, most recently defeating Furman on the road in last season's first game by a 3-1 score. Georgia has outscored the opposition by a count of 25-3 in the last nine season-opening contests.

The Bulldogs are winners of five of their last seven home openers dating back to 2005.

About the Bulldogs: The 2012 Bulldogs return nine starters and 16 letterwinners from last season's NCAA second round campaign, including All-SEC midfielder Alexa Newfield and goalkeeper Ashley Baker. The squad also welcomes in eight freshmen.

In 2011 Georgia made the field of 64 and reached the second round for just the sixth time in school history, putting together a record of 13-7-2 (6-3-2 SEC). It was Georgia's fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last five seasons and eighth overall, as UGA defeated Kansas in the first round before falling to the eventual national runner-up Duke, 3-1.

Georgia's 2012 schedule is again a difficult one, with the squad set to face off against 11 NCAA Tournament teams from last season as well as five teams ranked in the preseason NSCAA top-25 poll.

Last Time Out: The Georgia soccer team held its annual Red & Black intrasquad scrimmage last Friday night at the UGA Soccer Stadium to unofficially kick off the 2012 season, with the Black team narrowly edging Red by a 1-0 score via a Meghan Gibbons goal in the third minute.

Playing two 40-minute halves on a warm night in Athens, Black got on the board early as Gibbons followed up two deflections by Georgia keeper Ashley Baker coming off a corner kick. She sent the loose-ball rebound into the back of the net for the 1-0 edge just 2:50 into the contest, and the early tally would eventually hold up.

Goalkeepers Baker and Kathleen Eastman combined for six saves in goal for Red - three each - while Caitlin Woody and Callie Corbin Langford made one apiece on the other end for Black in the combined shutout effort. Madeline Barker ended her night with six shots to lead all players, while Gibbons took three for Black. Red was led by two from rookie Andie Fontanetta.

Looking at the Spartans: Coached by former Georgia soccer assistant coach Steve Nugent, UNC Greensboro enters the 2012 season after posting a 1-0 decision over eighth-ranked North Carolina in a rain-shortened exhibition last week, with the lone goal of the contest coming off the foot of sophomore Ashley Stokes.

UNCG went 8-10-1 in 2011, including a 7-3-1 mark in conference play. The Spartans lost leading scorer Kristin Player to graduation, after she scored eight goals and added nine assists for a team-best 25 points a season ago. The Spartans were picked to finish fourth in the Southern Conference, while redshirt senior defender Cat Barnekow was named to the preseason All-SoCon team.

In all, the young team welcomes in 17 newcomers, including 16 freshmen.

Series History, Georgia vs. UNCG: Georgia and UNCG are 1-1 in the all-time series, including last season's 4-1 Georgia victory on the road. In that game, the Bulldogs got goals from four different players including returnees Susannah Dennis, Torri Allen, and Madeline Barker.

Georgia is 20-0-1 all-time vs. teams from the SoCon.

Looking at the Paladins: Furman enters the 2012 season following a 6-1 win over USC Upstate in exhibition, and will be taking on North Florida in its season opener on Friday night before heading to Athens.

The Paladins - picked by the league's coaches to finish third in the SoCon - are coming off a 12-8-2 season in 2011, including a 6-3-2 clip in conference action. Furman returns eight starters from that squad.

Leading scorer Rachel Shelnutt - who tallied 12 goals and three assists for a team-best 27 points last year - has departed, leaving sophomore Hannah Stanifer (6a, 1a, 13p) as the team's biggest weapon coming back.

Series History, Georgia vs. Furman: Georgia is 4-0-1 all-time vs. its border rival, a mark that includes last season's season-opening victory in Greenville, S.C.  Since drawing in 2002, Georgia has won the last two meetings between the programs.

The Bulldogs are undefeated against the Southern Conference (20-0-1).

Eyes on Newfield: Junior midfielder/forward Alexa Newfield will be one to watch in 2012, as the returning All-SEC and NSCAA All-South Region first team selection is back from a 2011 season in which she broke the Georgia school record for shots (102) and points (40) in a single season. She enters 2012 ranked second in career shots with 189, as well as fourth all-time in points (60), and fifth in goals (24).

Newfield led the Bulldogs in both goals (16) and assists (eight) last season as a sophomore, and ranked atop all the major offensive categories in the SEC in 2011, including goals (16), goals per game (0.73), shots (102), shots per game (4.64), points (40), points per game (1.82), and game-winning goals (7).

Milestone Nearing for Holeman: Georgia head coach Steve Holeman needs just 11 wins to secure the 200th of his career - entering the season at 189-137-37 overall in 18 seasons at Auburn, Ole Miss, and Georgia. That ranks him tied for 46th all-time.

Unfamiliar Faces: Georgia will get ready to take on some new teams in 2012, including brand new conference foes Texas A&M and Missouri - neither of which the Bulldogs have ever faced. Additionally, Georgia will play South Dakota State and New Mexico in the non-conference slate for the first time in history.

Newfield on Hermann Trophy Watch List: Georgia soccer junior Alexa Newfield has been named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List, becoming one of 38 women in the running to receive what is widely regarded as the Heisman Trophy of collegiate soccer.

The sport's most prestigious award is presented annually to one male and one female during a banquet at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis. The lists will be narrowed down to 15 semifinalists on Nov. 29 by National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) members from Division I programs. Member coaches as well as fans will then vote for their top three choices, and the finalists will be announced Dec. 6. The banquet and awards presentation will take place on Fri., Jan. 11.

Next Up:  Georgia will be on the road for the next two weekends, playing its next four games away from the UGA Soccer Stadium. First, the Bulldogs head to Lawrence, Kansas - the site of their NCAA first round game in 2011 - to take on the Jayhawks and South Dakota State on Aug. 24-26, respectively, before heading to Orlando, Fla., to meet South Florida and Central Florida Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

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