Oct. 2, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia soccer team (9-2-0, 2-1-0) returns home for two games this weekend, set to take on SEC West foes Alabama and Ole Miss at the UGA Soccer Stadium.
Georgia will face the Crimson Tide on Fri., Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., before turning around to meet 25th-ranked Ole Miss on Sun., Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs are looking to begin a new winning streak as a new month opens, as Georgia’s program-best nine-game winning streak was snapped on the road at Kentucky last Sunday. Georgia went 7-1 in the month of September. Ole Miss will be the third ranked team Georgia has faced in the last four games, as the squad has gone 1-1 in those outings.
Both games will offer live video coverage and live stats on Georgiadogs.com.
Last Time Out: The 19th-ranked Georgia soccer team saw its program-record nine-game winning streak come to an end last Sunday night, as the Bulldogs suffered a 1-0 loss to No. 25/14 Kentucky at the UK Soccer Complex. The Wildcats got a 71st-minute goal from leading-scorer Stuart Pope and hung on, sending Georgia back to Athens with the weekend split.
The Bulldogs now sit at 9-2 (2-1) on the season after the loss to Kentucky and a 1-0 win at Missouri on Friday night, when the squad got an eighth goal on the season from freshman Marion Crowder and five highlight-reel saves from senior keeper Caitlin Woody.
Looking at the Crimson Tide: After entering last weekend 2-6 overall and 0-1 in SEC play, the Crimson Tide won both their Friday and Sunday game by scoring a combined nine goals to move to 4-6 (2-1) entering the match-up with Georgia. Alabama defeated Vanderbilt 5-2 on Friday night before turning around to defeat Tennessee 4-2 on Sunday, with junior forward Pia Rijsdijk collecting a pair of national awards after the wins. She was selected to the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week and CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll, while also being selected as the SEC Offensive Player of the Week with three goals in those two matches.
Tide leading scorer Merel van Dongen (4a, 0a, 8p) recently suffered a season-ending leg injury while training with the Netherlands National Team, leaving Rijsdijk as the team’s top offensive weapon with her three goals and one assist for seven points. Laura Lee Smith (3g, 0a, 6p) has also contributed, while three other UA players have scored one goal. Emily Rusk has played most of the time in goal, starting eight games and logging 696 minutes, making 44 saves with a 0.733 save percentage and one shutout.
The Crimson Tide returned nine starters and 12 letterwinners off last season’s squad, including the team’s top six goal-scorers from a year ago. In 2012, Georgia fell by a 2-1 score on the road in Tuscaloosa, but still boasts an 11-4-1 all-time record in the SEC series.
Looking at the Rebels: At 9-2-1 (2-1-0), 25th-ranked Ole Miss is coming off an offensive eruption vs. Auburn on Sunday as the Rebels defeated the Tigers by a score of 7-0, with goals from five different players including two each from sophomore Bethany Bunker and senior Mandy McCalla.
Rafaelle Souza is the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals and five assists for 27 points, while McCalla follows with nine goals and three assists for 21 points. Four other players have multiple goals and one other player has scored one goal in what has developed into a very balanced Ole Miss offense in 2013. Kelly McCormick has started 11 games and played in 12 in goal, allowing 11 goals and saving 34 shots with four shutouts and all nine of the team’s wins.
Ole Miss won 13 games in 2012, reaching the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. In all, the Rebels return nine starters from last year’s squad while welcoming nine newcomers.
Georgia is 9-7-2 all-time vs. Ole Miss after last season’s 2-0 road win in Oxford.
Georgia head coach Steve Holeman spent 15 years at Ole Miss before taking the job at UGA in 2010.
Bulldogs In The National Rankings, RPI: Off to a 9-2 start to the season, the Georgia soccer team has garnered national recognition in several rankings as well as in the NCAA’s RPI.
After coming in at No. 13 in the initial RPI of the season last week, the Bulldogs dropped four spots after the most recent split weekend, now No. 17. Behind only South Carolina, Georgia is the second highest-ranked team in the SEC. The RPI (rating percentage index) is the most important criteria used by the NCAA to determine the 64-team tournament field, taking into consideration a team’s results and strength of schedule. Thirteen was the highest RPI for the Bulldogs since they were No. 9 on Oct. 21, 2009, and the highest of the head coach Steve Holeman era, with 17 now second-highest.
Georgia is ranked in two national polls - coming in at No. 20 in the Soccer America poll and No. 24 in Soccer Times. The Bulldogs are still receiving votes in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.
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 three weeks ago and updated after games through Sept. 29, Georgia’s save percentage of 0.900 ranked fifth in the NCAA and first in the SEC, while the shutout percentage of 0.727 ranked tied for fifth and also leads the conference. Georgia’s goals against average of 0.360 ranks sixth and is second in the SEC.
Individually, Marion Crowder’s eight goals rank 32nd in the nation and seventh in the league, while the rookie’s 17 points are good for 58th in the nation and seventh in the SEC. Caitlin Woody’s 0.360 goals against average is eighth in the nation and second in the SEC, while her 0.897 save percentage ranks ninth nationally and leads the conference.
Next Up: The Bulldogs only have one game on the schedule for next weekend, a road contest at Auburn on Fri., Oct. 11, before the team’s second scheduled off-date on that Sunday. Georgia is home for two on Oct. 18-20, taking on Mississippi State and Texas A&M in Athens. The meeting against the Aggies will air nationally on ESPNU.