Georgia Opens SEC Play Vs. South Carolina
Defender Summer Burnett


Defender Summer Burnett
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Sept. 18, 2013

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ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia soccer team (7-1-0) is set to open the Southeastern Conference slate this weekend, hosting No. 17/8 South Carolina (7-0-1) Friday night at 7 p.m. at the UGA Soccer Stadium. The Bulldogs then have one of their two conference open dates on Sunday. The Gamecocks are the only remaining unbeaten team in the SEC, currently sitting atop the conference standings.

Georgia is 9-8-1 all-time in SEC openers, and 1-1-1 under Steve Holeman.

Georgia is riding a league-best seven-game winning streak for the first time since 1999 and continues to build on the program’s best start since 2009 and of the head coach Steve Holeman era. No Georgia soccer team has ever won eight straight games, while the Bulldogs would already surpass the 2012 win total with a win Friday. 

Friday night’s game will pit two of the top SEC defenses against one another. Heading into the weekend, South Carolina and Georgia are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in goals against average and goals allowed, with the Gamecocks allowing a mere 0.12 goals per game and just one goal allowed all season, with Georgia following at a 0.37 goals-against clip and just three total goals allowed.

Georgiadogs.com will offer live video coverage for Friday night’s game, with commentary by Kevin Copp slated to begin just before kickoff. The game will mark the annual “Futbol Fiesta” night, highlighted by a halftime taco-eating contest while the first 300 fans will receive Futbol Fiesta t-shirts. Admission to all regular season soccer games is free.

Last Time Out: The Georgia soccer team picked up another weekend sweep, posting a 1-0 win over LBSU Friday night and a 5-1 rout of the College of Charleston Sunday to run the winning streak to seven games.

The squad was paced on the weekend by rookie Marion Crowder, whose five goals over the two games moved her into the team lead in that category as she now sits with six scores on the season with one assist for 13 total points. After scoring the game-winner in the 80th minute vs. LBSU, Crowder netted four goals vs. the Cougars Sunday - including that game-winner as well - to become the first Bulldog with four goals in a game since Jessica Winton did so in 2003. Georgia saw its historic shutout streak end at 652:57 when the College of Charleston scored in the second half on a penalty kick, with that mark going down as the second-longest in program history behind only the 1999 group that started its season with eight straight clean sheets.

Looking at the Gamecocks: Ranked No. 17 in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll and No. 8 in the Soccer America poll, South Carolina enters as the early-on SEC leader with their unbeaten record of 7-0-1. The Gamecocks head to Athens coming off a 1-0 win over East Carolina on Sunday and a 1-0 win over USF on Thursday of last week. The squad’s marquee win of the season is a 1-0 win over then-No. 7 Duke on Aug. 26 at home. The Gamecocks, like Georgia, are off to their best start since 2009 while they have posted an unbeaten record through eight games for just the third time in program history.

Through the non-conference portion of its season, South Carolina has been paced by Danielle Au and Raina Johnson, each with three goals and one assist for seven points. Daija Griffin has two goals, while four other players have each scored one. Chelsea Drannan has tallied three assists. In goal, keeper Sabrina D’Angelo has played all 740 minutes, allowing just one goal through eight games and compiling a 0.12 goals against average with 24 saves, stopping 96 percent of shots sent her way.

South Carolina finished the 2012 season with an overall record of 7-10-4 (3-7-3), advancing to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. The team’s top returning players from that bunch included Au and D’Angelo - with Au the top returning goal-scorer after tallying four last season. Only a junior, D’Angelo already ranks third all-time in Gamecock history in saves and is sixth in career shutouts.

Georgia is 13-5-3 all-time vs. South Carolina, suffering a tough 1-0 loss in Columbia last season.

Crowder Honored After Five-Goal Weekend: Georgia soccer forward Marion Crowder posted a five-goal, 10-point weekend in the Bulldogs’ sweep of Long Beach State and the College of Charleston on her way to earning the first SEC Freshman of the Week award of her young career and snagging the first conference honors of the season for UGA on Monday. A day later, she earned College Sports Madness National Offensive Player of the Week and Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors.

The Madison, Miss., native scored the game-winner in the 80th minute in Georgia’s 1-0 win over LBSU on Friday night, before erupting for four goals and another game-winning performance in Sunday’s 5-1 rout of the Cougars. Her offensive output pushed the Bulldogs to 7-1 at the conclusion of non-conference action as the team has turned in its best start since 2009 and first seven-game winning streak since 1999. On Sunday Crowder became the first Georgia player to score four goals in a game since 2003.

Crowder now leads the Bulldogs in goals (6) and points (13), while she sits tied for fourth in the SEC in goals and tied for eighth in points.

Stacking Up: Through the early part of the 2013 campaign, the Bulldogs stack up well both nationally and in the SEC in several categories. In the NCAA statistics, released for the first time last week, Georgia’s shutout percentage of 0.750 ranks tied for fifth nationally, while their goals-against average of 0.370 is good for ninth. Marion Crowder’s six goals rank her 28th in the nation.

The Bulldogs currently lead the SEC in shots with 190 (23.75 per game). Georgia has allowed the second fewest goals in the conference with just three, also second in goals-against average (0.37). Six shutouts are second-most among SEC teams. Georgia has also taken the second most corner kicks in the SEC with 62.

Freshman on Fire: When Marion Crowder scored four goals against the College of Charleston on Sept. 15, she became the first freshman to do so in Georgia soccer history. The only other player to score four goals in a game for the Bulldogs was senior Jessica Winton - a decade ago. Crowder has scored the most goals as a freshman at UGA since Alexa Newfield netted eight in 2010. 

DE-FENSE: The Georgia back line and goalkeeping unit have been nearly impenetrable this season, logging a goals-against average of just 0.37 - good for ninth in the country and second in the SEC behind only Friday’s opponent in South Carolina. Georgia’s three goals allowed is also good for second in the league.

Before the Bulldogs allowed a penalty kick goal in the 78th minute last Sunday, they had strung together a historic streak of 652:57 without conceding - the second-longest shutout streak in program history behind only the 1999 group that opened its season with eight straight shutouts. Georgia has still not allowed a goal in the run of play this season, as the three goals allowed were all off set pieces - a PK against the College of Charleston and free kick and corner kick goals vs. Texas in the opener way back on Aug. 23.

Goalkeeper Caitlin Woody has risen to the occasion in her first season as the regular starter for the Bulldogs, registering 19 saves and six shutouts with her record of 7-1. Her six blank sheets already ranks her tied for fifth most in program history, still with more than half the season to play.

Durable Locandro: Georgia senior midfielder Nicole Locandro has been one of the Bulldogs’ most durable players throughout her career. As of Sunday’s game vs. the College of Charleston, Locandro had started 53 straight games to lead active players, dating back to Oct. 24, 2010. In all, Locandro has started 62 of 71 games in her career - totaling 13 goals, eight assists, and 34 points, while making good on all three of her PK opportunities including vs. Mercer this season.

Next Up: Georgia will hit the road for its first SEC series away from home next weekend, traveling to take on Missouri on Fri., Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET and Kentucky on Sun., Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. Live audio and blog coverage will be available for both contests on Georgiadogs.com. Georgia’s Sunday match-up with the Wildcats will be televised regionally on CSS.

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