Despite experiencing first-half struggles in previous matchups this spring, Georgia soccer is unbeaten in its last two games, scoring five goals and conceding only two in that time.
The offensive forces have built steadily throughout the spring campaign, leading Georgia to its season finale on Sunday.
“I think there’s genuine excitement," said head coach Billy Lesesne. “I think it’s hopefully something we can continue to build upon.”
The spring season started with a comeback win for Georgia as it scored two goals in the second half against Kennesaw State, winning the game 2-1. This started a trend for the Bulldogs as they would play much better in the second half of games as their season went on.
In the first half, Georgia has given up seven goals on 34 shots this spring season while only conceding three goals on 19 shots in the second half. Georgia’s defense settles into the game and gives up less goals as the game goes on, but against the competition in the SEC, it's hard to make a comeback.
“Often I think both teams will probably make halftime adjustments,” Lesesne said. “We're in a position where [if] it's a 1-1 game at half, can we drive on and get that winning goal late? That’s an area we continue to work on.”
In the next three games against opponents Ole Miss, Auburn and Clemson, Georgia was behind at half time and couldn't fight its way back into the game with five of the seven goals it conceded coming in the first half. The Bulldog defense gave up 23 shots in the first half of those games compared to nine in the second half.
Offensively, the Bulldogs couldn't keep up and struggled to mount a comeback as they couldn’t find the back of the net, scoring only two goals on 37 shots in those three games.
Since then, however, in the last two games against Florida and Wake Forest, the Bulldogs have scored five goals on 28 shots. Senior Mollie Belisle has led the way in this surge in goals with three goals in her last three games and five in her last six.
“I think I came back from Christmas break finally feeling like myself again, even though my injury was two years ago,” Belisle said. “I know how to [score goals], I've been playing my whole life so just go do it and stop getting in your head about it.”
The offense isn't the only thing improving in this two-game win streak — the defense has given up two goals on only 15 shots over in that time. That’s the fewest shots the Bulldogs have conceded over a two-game span since the spring season started in February.
“When you stick yourself to a goal or two-goal lead, it does make it more difficult for the other team to get back into the game,” Lesesne said.
The Bulldog defense has improved at limiting the shots and goals in the first half while also maintaining their good record in the second as it conceded one goal and eight shots in the first half of the last two games while conceding one goal and seven shots in the second half.
“We’ve just kind of finally connected the dots and put it to fruition, I guess, and actually gotten the first goal,” Belisle said.
The Bulldogs look to continue this good run in their last game of the season in Charlotte, North Carolina, as they take on North Carolina State on Sunday at 2 p.m.