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Graduate student Mollie Belisle (12) dribbles the ball upfield. On Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 at Turner Sports Complex in Athens, Georgia, the University of Georgia soccer team tied Mississippi State with a score of 2-2. (Photo: Conor Dillon; dillon.conor11@gmail.com)

A pair of goals from graduate forward Mollie Belisle combined with a crucial one-on-one save from senior goalkeeper Emory Wegener cancelled out Marissa Bosco’s goal for Kentucky to deliver a 2-1 Southeastern Conference win for the Georgia soccer team.

The Bulldogs’ overall and Southeastern Conference records are now 10-3-1 and 3-2-1 respectively. In the SEC East division standings, Georgia is 2-0-0 with six points. The win over Kentucky also marks the first back-to-back SEC wins since 2019 and first back-to-back divisional wins since 2004.

Kentucky opened the scoring in the fifth minute. After the Bulldogs gave the ball away in midfield, Kentucky junior forward Hannah Richardson bore down on Emory Wegener’s goal. Wegener managed to make an important save, but Richardson collected the scraps and played a cross to Kentucky’s redshirt fifth year Marissa Bosco to go ahead of the Bulldogs.

Despite going down so early in the match, Georgia responded with a goal of its own three minutes later. Belisle finished off senior midfielder Dani Murguia’s cross to end her two-game scoreless run and score her 13th goal of the season. In the 17th minute, Belisle scored again, sending the ball flying past Kentucky goalkeeper Laura Nielsen into the top left corner of the goal.

“Hard fought game today, just as it was on Thursday, but you always know that when you get into league play,” said Georgia head coach Billy Lesesne. “And to really not start the game well again and go down early at home, really good response there.”

Halfway through the second half, Georgia had a penalty kick claim after a Kentucky defender brought Georgia freshman forward Danielle Lewin to the ground. In the 82 minute, Georgia nearly got a third goal after Belisle played in freshman forward Rebecca Womer, but Kentucky’s Nielsen produced a pair of strong saves to keep the scoreline close.

After another poor giveaway by Georgia’s backline, Wegener stepped up again in the 29th minute to deny Kentucky of another one-on-one opportunity to keep the Bulldogs ahead of the Wildcats.

“When we start as a coaching staff to think about the moments of the match, you can always turn to [Wegener] and some of the saves that she made from one on one situations where she was patient and played extremely well,” Lesene said. “That kept us in the game in moments.”

Georgia finished the match with 22 shots to Kentucky’s 13, and Wegener finished with four saves.

Georgia will travel to the University of South Carolina to continue its SEC campaign on Oct. 15. South Carolina is ranked No. 19th in the country and has nine points in the SEC East.

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