Bulldogs, Lady Vols Set For Regular-Season Finale
Freshman Liliana Rios


Freshman Liliana Rios
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Oct. 23, 2012

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ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia soccer team (7-10-2, 3-7-2) will conclude the 2012 regular season this Thursday night when it travels to SEC East rival Tennessee for a 7 p.m. showdown at Regal Stadium in Knoxville on Oct. 25.

Georgiadogs.com will offer live audio and blog coverage for the game on Georgiadogs.com beginning just before kickoff.

Last Time Out: The Bulldogs came away with a split on the road last weekend, defeating Mississippi State 3-0 in Starkville on Friday night before falling 1-0 to ninth-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday in College Station, surrendering the game-winner via an own-goal in the 104th minute.

Georgia keeper Ashley Baker made 11 saves on the afternoon vs. the Aggies, now with 103 for the season - a career high.

Looking at the Lady Vols: Tennessee heads into Thursday’s finale at 13-4-2 overall and 8-3-1 in the league, currently in second place in the Eastern Division and third overall with 25 points.

The Vols are ranked No. 23 in the latest NSCAA poll and are No. 11 in this week’s RPI.

Tennessee is coming a weekend road sweep at ninth-ranked Texas A&M (1-0) and at Ole Miss (2-1).

UT is led by Hannah Wilkinson’s 7-goal, 1-assist effort for 15 points, while Kylie Bono has five goals and four assists for 14 points and three other players - Caroline Brown (3g, 7a, 13p), Amy Harrison (6g, 0a, 12p), and Iyana Moore (4g, 3a, 11p) - are also in double figures in season points.

Tennessee is outscoring its opponents 32-11 on the year, with those 11 goals allowed the second-fewest in the SEC behind only Texas A&M’s nine. UT’s 0.56 goals-against average also ranks second. The Lady Vols have logged 10 shutouts behind keeper Julie Eckel.

At No. 23 this week in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Tennessee is the fourth ranked team Georgia will face in 2012 and second straight, after meeting No. 9 Texas A&M just last Sunday.

Series History, Georgia vs. Tennessee: Georgia is 7-12 all-time vs. Tennessee, most recently falling by a 2-0 score in a game that spanned two days due to electrical problems affecting a bank of lights at the UGA Soccer Stadium on Oct. 28-29, 2011.

Postseason Picture: For the first time in 2012, the top 10 teams in the Southeastern Conference, now out of 14 members, will advance to the SEC Soccer Championships. The tournament is set for Oct. 29-Nov. 2 in its regular neutral-site home in Orange Beach, Ala.

Entering this week in 12th place (tied for Alabama for 11th with 11 overall points but falling to the Crimson Tide in the head-to-head tiebreaker, Georgia can earn one of those 10 spots with a win over Tennessee Thursday as well as one of the following two scenarios:

            • An LSU loss at home vs. Arkansas, and an Alabama loss or tie at Auburn

            • A South Carolina loss or tie at home vs. Florida, and an Alabama loss or tie at Auburn

The winner of the SEC Championships secures an automatic bid to next month’s NCAA Tournament.

About the Bulldogs: The 2012 Bulldogs returned 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 that were ranked in the preseason NSCAA top-25 poll.

Through 19 games the Bulldogs have gotten four goals apiece from Bella Hartley, Meghan Gibbons, and Nicole Locandro. Locandro - adding two assists - leads the team in points with 10.

Keeper Ashley Baker’s 103 saves rank second in the SEC. Junior Carli Shultis has added five assists so far, which is good for tied for 10th in the conference. With 51 shots this season, sophomore Tori Cooper is nine away from breaking into the top-10 (60) for shots in a single season.

De-Fense: One of Georgia’s biggest strengths in 2012 has been its back four - comprised of seniors Jenna Buckley and Rebekah Perry and juniors Torri Allen and Nikki Hill. The Bulldog defense has risen to the task this season, limiting opposing teams to 1.05 goals per game. Veteran keeper Ashley Baker stands in second in the SEC in saves per game (5.72) and saves (103), with five shutouts.

On Oct. 5 vs. Ole Miss, Georgia’s defense kept the Rebels off the scoreboard for just the third time this season to that point after the squad entered the game leading the league in nearly every offensive category, while shutting down the SEC’s leading scorers in Mandy McCalla and Rafaelle Souza, and on Oct. 21 at Texas A&M Georgia held the ninth-ranked Aggies off the scoreboard for 103 minutes in College Station.

Balanced Offense: The Bulldogs have enjoyed a balanced offensive output in 2012, currently with 11 players with at least one goal to her name and five with multiple. Gibbons, Hartley, and Locandro lead the way with four each, while Jenna Owens and Madeline Barker have each added two.

A total of 15 players have at least one point this season.

Baker Strong As Usual: Georgia veteran goalkeeper Ashley Baker - a returning All-SEC and All-South Region selection - not only stands among the league leaders in goalkeeping stats, but is continuing to move up in the Bulldog record books. Now with a career-best 103 saves this season, the Lilburn, Ga., native has surpassed the century mark in that category for the first time in her career and is currently in fifth all-time at UGA for stops in a single season. With 296 saves for her career, she is fourth in that category, and with 30 career wins in goal she stands fourth all-time. Her five shutouts bring her to 20 for her career, third all-time at Georgia.

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