March 24, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia soccer team went 4-1 in round robin play and finished out its day with a commanding 6-2 win over Armstrong Atlantic in the finals to come away with the championship at Saturday’s 7v7 tournament at the UGA Soccer Stadium in Athens. Georgia was paced by hat tricks for rising juniors Meghan Gibbons and Nicole Locandro in the deciding win over the Pirates.
The Bulldogs welcomed five other schools from around the Peach State for a day of 7v7 action that saw each team play at least five 30-minute games with the top two finishers earning a place in the final. The Bulldogs led the way with their 5-1 finish, while runner-up Armstrong Atlantic finished with an overall record of 3-2-1 on the day.
Gibbons scored at least one goal in all six of the Bulldogs’ games.
The squad today welcomed back starting goalkeeper Ashley Baker and defender Nikki Hill after the duo missed the early part of the spring season as they were competing with the U23 England and U20 Canadian national teams, respectively. Redshirt freshman Ansley Morgan saw her first career action on defense today, while Callie Corbin Langford and Kathleen Eastman each earned playing time in goal in addition to Baker and Caitlin Woody.
“I thought we got better as the day went on,” said assistant coach Robin Confer. “We showed we were fit, and we definitely responded after losing our first game. That’s what you want to see. We got better all day long and played our best soccer in the final.”
After earning the matchup with Armstrong Atlantic in the finals, Georgia came out firing, with the shot count reading 5-0 through the first five minutes of action. Locandro broke through first to give Georgia the early lead, but the Pirates would tie it at 1-1 just moments later despite shots going 12-3 in the Bulldogs’ favor to that point. But Georgia answered as Locandro sent a perfect cross over to Gibbons, who tapped it home for the 2-1 lead approaching five minutes left in the first half. Locandro then added to the lead with her second of the day to make it 3-1, which is where it remained at the break.
Locandro was then awarded a penalty kick early in the second half and converted to complete her hat trick and make it 4-1 in favor of the home team. Gibbons added Georgia’s fifth and sixth goals later in the half, before Armstrong put one in with just two minutes to play to cut it to 6-2 at the final whistle.
Earlier in the day, rising junior Chika Ibiam put in her first two goals in a Georgia uniform, while Madeline Barker also turned in a solid performance on the attack. The Bulldog defense and goalkeeping corps allowed only 10 goals all day, the fewest of any team. Kennesaw State was next with 11 allowed.
During the round robin portion of the day, Georgia posted wins over Kennesaw State (3-1), Armstrong Atlantic (4-2), Mercer (3-0), and Georgia College (5-2), while falling to North Georgia in the first game of the day, 3-2.
“We wanted to get some different players some different looks at different positions,” said volunteer coach Jonathan Harvey. With our limited roster [due to injuries], we had some kids that had to step up today, and we dug deep and put forth a little extra effort. That’s what we were looking for. We focused on moving the ball and generating goal-scoring chances. That’s what 7-a-side is about.”
“It’s been different this spring with our limited numbers,” Harvey said. “We’ve got kids playing out of position and some younger players sharing the minutes, but it’s great that they are gaining experience because in the fall you’ll need a deep bench to get through the rugged SEC schedule.”
Georgia is next in action on Sun., April 1, traveling to Columbia, S.C., to meet both South Carolina and UNC Charlotte. The final spring date of 2012 will come on Sat., April 14 as the Bulldogs play their annual Alumni Game in Athens.
FINAL: Georgia 6, Armstrong Atlantic 2
North Georgia 3, Georgia 2
Mercer 2, Georgia College 2
Kennesaw 2, Armstrong 2
Georgia College 8, North Georgia 4
Georgia 3, Kennesaw 1
Armstrong 6, Mercer 2
Georgia 4, Armstrong 2
Georgia College 3, Kennesaw 2
North Georgia 2, Mercer 2
Armstrong 4, Georgia College 1
Georgia 5, Mercer 2
Kennesaw 6, North Georgia 2
Georgia 5, Georgia College 2
Armstrong 4, North Georgia 3
Kennesaw 2, Mercer 1
Order of Finish:
1) Georgia, 5-1-0
2) Armstrong Atlantic, 3-2-1
3) Kennesaw State/Georgia College, 2-2-1
5) North Georgia, 1-3-1
6) Mercer, 0-3-2