Georgia and Kentucky each had an unconventional goal in Friday night’s match at Turner Soccer Complex, resulting in a 1-1 draw after two periods of extra time.
In the 52nd minute, the Wildcats took the lead due to a mistake by Georgia goalkeeper Emory Wegener. She was attempting to clear the ball by kicking it, but a Kentucky player deflected the ball with her foot, and it bounced back into the goal behind Wegener.
A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Wegener took the mistake to heart, but felt that her team rallied around her.
“It sucks. I mean, it’s hard,” Wegener said. “The hardest thing about being a goalkeeper is you a mistake, and that’s what happens. Everyone else can make a mistake and you have someone behind you… It emphasizes how perfect you [have] to be.”
Wegener’s drive for perfection has persisted throughout her life and in her time growing up playing soccer. She said perfection is the biggest thing she strives for, even though she knows that putting so much pressure on herself is the worst thing she could do.
The Bulldogs shook off Wegener’s mistake when Kentucky’s Valdis Björg Sigurbjörnsdóttir made one of her own 10 minutes later. Georgia’s Kayla Bruster took a free kick that sailed over the head of her teammate, Mollie Belisle, and was headed into the goal by Sigurbjörnsdóttir for a Kentucky own goal that put Georgia on the scoreboard and tied the game.
“I have the utmost confidence in [Bruster] at all times that she can put the ball wherever she wants… So as I was running, I was like ‘Just get up. Just put pressure on their back line,’ and that’s what I did,” Belisle said. “I saw someone flick it in, and I like to claim it as my goal.”
Georgia took 20 shots on Thursday, but none of them found the back of the net and only seven were on goal. The inability to score despite plenty of shots being taken has been a pattern for the team this season. In addition, 15 of the 20 shots taken were by players coming off Georgia’s bench. Capitalizing on shot opportunities will be key for the Bulldogs in the remainder of their season.
“Soccer sometimes is a cruel game in that sense,” head coach Billy Lesesne said. “We play in a really challenging league, and there are good defenses that are out there, and it’s our job to break them down and once we break them down, it's our job to finish [shots].”
The Bulldogs — now 7-6-3 and 3-3-2 in the SEC — have only two regular season games left. They will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on the No. 6 Razorbacks in another SEC matchup on Sunday. But, Georgia has its sights set even higher with a shot to make it to the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama, from Nov. 3-10.
“I mean, we’re excited,” Wegener said. “It’s been a while since this team has been there, and we have the chance to go there this year, and hopefully — I mean, we’re going to do really well. I mean, everyone’s stoked.”