Year by Year
In May of 1994, Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley announced the hiring of Bill Barker to guide the inaugural Bulldog women's soccer team through the uncharted territory of Southeastern Conference soccer.
The responsibility of creating a team from scratch was new to Barker, whose nine-year stint at Central Florida not only allowed to boast a 101-33-11 record, but also a couple of invitations to the NCAA tournament.
The challenge of heavy scouting and recruiting produced 18 freshmen and one junior from over 200 candidates. With those 19 players, Barker had a solid base to build on. In looking for those first signees, he wanted to sign players with a lot of room for improvement. Improve they did, and the core of that group saw the Georgia program rise to prominence in just four years.
The 1995 inaugural squad won its first two matches, struggled in the middle of the season, then closed strong to post a 10-5-3 record. The next year saw the Bulldogs earn their first SEC tournament bid after a 6-2 conference campaign. The 1996 team finished 14-7 overall and just missed the NCAA tournament, an achievement that would wait one more year.
Barker's third edition came out of the gate hot, winning their first six matches, and posted a 15-6-1 mark for the season. The 1997 Bulldogs were an impressive 10-1-1 at home and were rewarded with their first NCAA appearance, which resulted in a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat at Clemson. Stephanie Yarem was the brightest star and was named first team All-America by the NSCAA and Soccer Times.
The 1998 season was the final one for Georgia's inaugural class, and the 12 remaining members (along with transfer Nikki Ornelaz) went out with a bang. After struggling through the SEC slate and missing the conference tournament for the first time in three years, the Bulldogs were forced to rely on the mercy of the NCAA selection committee. A few tense moments were had, but the Dogs were in, and they made Wake Forest and Virginia pay before falling at Dartmouth in the Sweet 16. Overall, the 1998 sqaud went 13-6-2, and the seniors left with pride, knowing they had laid the foundation for future soccer greatness at Georgia.
In 1999 the Georgia women's soccer program would start fresh in a sense after losing 13 seniors from the previous year, and bringing in 12 freshmen coming into the season. However, Georgia would respond with its best start in school history at 7-0-1 as goalie Nicole Williams racked up the third longest shutout streak in NCAA history at 855 minutes and 17 seconds.
On September 20, 1999 Georgia would reach No. 12 in the NSCAA poll for its highest ranking in school history. After the strong start Georgia would struggle dropping its first three road games of the season. Georgia would get back on track by winning six of its last eight regular season games, including a big overtime win in its first televised home game against Tennessee to help the Bulldogs return to the SEC tournament. In that tournament Georgia would defeat Kentucky in penalty kicks in the first round to end the Wildcats winning streak at 15 games, which was the second longest in the nation. It also marked the second time in as many season that the Bulldogs used penalty kicks to claim an important postseason victory.
Georgia would lose to Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament semifinals and fall victim to a drop off in SEC teams making the NCAA Tournament, as only two teams made it from the conference after they had sent six in 1998.
In 2000, Sue Montagne-Patberg took over the program, coming to Georgia from Minnesota. After accumulating a record of 97-42-9 in the first seven years of the Golden Gopher program, Patberg led Georgia to a 49-45-9 record in five seasons. She coached the Bulldogs to four straight SEC Tournament appearences (2000-2003), reaching the finals in 2000 and the semifinals in 2003. Patberg's squad was also selected to play in the NCAA Tournament in 2001 and 2003, reaching the second round both times. After a 4-9-5 season in 2004, Patberg resigned her position as Georgia's head coach.
In December of 2004, Patrick Baker was brought in from Florida State University to take over for the departed Patberg, bringing with him two assistant coaches, Robin Confer and Rob Thompson. With no commitments for the 2005 signing class yet in place, Baker and his staff were able to bring in five players, including the 2005 Tennessee State Player of the Year in Kristin Garman, who had originally committed to play for them at Florida State.
It was evident as early as spring practice that a new era in Georgia Soccer was beginning. A revitalized Bulldog soccer team hit the pitch in August of 2005 and went unbeaten in its first seven games, posting a 6-0-1 record, including a 1-1 draw with No. 22 Southern California. By season's end, Baker had coached the Bulldogs to a 12-6-2 record, posting the second-best single-season turnaround in SEC history and one of the 10 best turnarounds in the country that year. In addition Georgia was able to snap a losing streak on the road that extended back to Oct. 14, 2003, when they defeated Georgia State on the Panthers' home field.
Baker and his staff continued to impress fans and soccer aficionados around the country when his 2006 signing class was announced. The 13-member class included seven players from the state of Georgia, more than had been signed from the Peach State every year since 2000, combined, as well as a transfer from Virginia Tech who was a former ACC Freshman of the Year in 2004, Ashley Stinson.
Baker helped Georgia to three straight appearances in the NCAA Championships from 2007-09.
Georgia Soccer opened another chapter when Baker resigned in April 2010 and was replaced by 15-year Ole Miss head coach Steve Holeman. Holeman, widely regarded as “The Dean of SEC Soccer” brought a wealth of coaching experience to Athens and revitalized the Bulldogs’ work ethic as well as introducing a more possession-driven system of play. The 2010 season was Holeman’s first at the helm of the Georgia program, and the Bulldogs saw an overall record of 11-6-4 (5-3-3 SEC) and made a trip to the SEC semifinals for the third time in four seasons. The Bulldogs were arguably the last team out of the NCAA Championships field, but Holeman's 2011 squad got right back to business in earning an at-large bid. The most recent edition of the Georgia soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a win over Kansas after going 13-7-2 on the year.