ATHENS, Ga. ----- The Georgia soccer team made history in 2009 when it advanced to its third straight NCAA Tournament, doing so under the guidance of head coach Patrick Baker who this season became the winningest coach in program history.
Selected to the 64-team field with an at-large bid, Baker's Bulldogs were pitted in the Chapel Hill, N.C., region and squared off against UNC Wilmington in the first round. There, Georgia used two goals from sophomore Ashley Miller and one from senior Carrie Patterson to earn a 3-0 win and advance to the second round for the fifth time.
The shutout was Georgia's first blank sheet in an NCAA Tournament game, while Miller's two goals made her just the fourth player ever to post a multi-goal effort in the postseason for UGA. With the win, Baker surpassed Bill Barker as the program's winningest coach as he collected his 66th career victory in his fifth season at the helm.
The Bulldogs dropped that second round match-up to the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels by a 4-0 margin, concluding the campaign with an overall record of 15-6-1 (7-4-0 SEC). That conference record marked the first time in program history in which the squad put up back-to-back-to-back winning records in league play. Their 15 wins are tied for second most all-time in a single season (1997), behind only the 2007 team which posted 18 victories.
Starting out with six consecutive home games, the Bulldogs remained undefeated through the first month of the 2009 slate, with the team's first loss coming Sept. 25 at LSU after a record of 7-0-1 to that point. The early-season success led to the Bulldogs' first ever top-10 ranking as they were tabbed No. 8 in the Soccer America poll on Sept. 15 and would remain in the top-25 in at least two polls for the remainder of the season.
The Bulldogs went on to post the best 12-game start in team history (10-1-1) and posted back-to-back-to-back SEC road shutouts for the first time in school history Sept. 27-Oct. 4. On Oct. 16 in Athens, the Bulldogs handed No. 5 South Carolina its first loss of the season to date, using two goals from Carrie Patterson to down the Gamecocks, 2-1. Georgia won two of its last three - earning victories against Alabama and Tennessee to close out the slate - before heading to SEC Tournament play in Orange Beach. There, Georgia suffered an early exit with a 3-2 loss to the Gamecocks, as USC netted two in the final 10 minutes to eliminate the Bulldogs.
Georgia received numerous accolades during and after the season, with three players - Carrie Patterson, Laura Eddy, and Susannah Dennis - honored by the SEC for their play. Patterson, who ended the year leading the Bulldogs in goals (11), points (27), and game-winners (5), was tabbed to the All-SEC first team, making her just the fourth soccer player ever to earn first team honors in four seasons and the 29th UGA student-athlete to do so in any sport. Eddy was named the 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year while solidifying her place on the All-SEC second team and All-Freshman team. Dennis was also included on the All-Freshnan squad.
Additionally, Eddy was named to the Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie Team for her play on the backline as a newcomer. Senior Lindsay Stein was recognized for her accomplishments off the field as she was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team and to the SEC Community Service Team.
Georgia's weekly honors included Michelle Betos - SEC Defensive Player of the Week (10/29), Carrie Patterson - Collegesoccer360.com Primetime Performer of the Week (10/21), Natalie Farley - Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week (10/7), Jamie Pollock - Soccer America National Team of the Week (9/8), Rebekah Perry - SEC Freshman of the Week (8/31), and Carrie Patterson - SEC Offensive Player of the Week (8/24).
In the final stat columns, Patterson was followed by Miller's six goals and six assists for 18 points, while Pollock had six goals and one assist and Alex Hooker added five goals and one assist to become the fourth Bulldog to finish with double-digit points. A total of nine players scored multiple goals and 11 tallied at least one. Betos wrapped up her senior season with 85 saves and eight shutouts.
Patterson rewrote the Georgia record books this season, and wasted no time doing so as her hat trick in the season opener established her as the Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer. At season's end, the Atlanta native owned the Georgia record for goals (44), assists (t-23), points (111), and multi-goal games (9), and is second all-time in game-winning goals (14). Betos finishes with both the first and second most wins in a single season.
Georgia returns 20 of 28 players in 2010, including eight who made at least 10 starts in 2009.