Head coach Billy Lesesne speaks to a player during a game on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020 at the Jack Turner Soccer Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated the Volunteers 1-0. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

Georgia soccer fell to Auburn 2-1 in double overtime on Sunday evening after a 101st minute winner in the second round of the SEC tournament. The Bulldogs’ loss removes them from the tournament and marks the second year in a row that they were unable to advance past their first game in Orange Beach, Alabama.

“I am incredibly proud of this team,” said head coach Billy Lesesne. “It was a very challenging match for us. Both teams competed throughout and that’s what you expect with this high caliber game. Give Auburn credit for the goal they created in overtime.”

The Georgia squad entered into the second round game understaffed, with 13 players out due to COVID-19 complications and various injuries. Most notably absent were Emory Wegener, the Bulldogs’ starting keeper for the last two seasons, starting defenders Cecily Stoute and Kayla Bruster and last season’s lead scorer Chloe Chapman.

In Wegener’s absence, senior Liz Brucia made her sixth start in goal as a Bulldog and recorded four saves in the loss. Brucia’s unofficial actions in goal kept the Tigers from capitalizing on multiple opportunities in the box throughout the game.

The Tigers earned their spot on the scoreboard first in the ninth minute as Georgia’s Jessica Denney and Brucia failed to connect a pass back into the box and the pass was intercepted by Auburn. Brucia was caught out of the goal and Auburn’s Sydney Richards was able to put the ball in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Georgia responded quickly to even the score fifteen minutes later when forward Mallie McKenzie drove the ball up the left side and delivered a cross into the box that was collected by Mollie Belisle. Belisle was able to drop the ball off to Abby Boyan as she ran into the box and drove the ball home for the equalizer.

Despite having faced the Tigers in the regular season to a 1-0 loss, Sunday evening’s match looked very different from the previous meeting. The numerous missing pieces in Georgia's roster and the intensity of tournament play changed the landscape of the two sides’ approach to the game.

Auburn took the victory in the 101st minute of the game. In the first minute of the second overtime period, Tigers forward Mallory Mooney received a cross in the box and slotted the ball over the goal line to win the match for Auburn and end Georgia’s season. The Tigers will go on to play Arkansas in the quarterfinals.

“I am so proud of the fight in our team,” Lesesne said. “They really battled and I’m proud of their efforts. I can’t say a bad word about how they prepared for the week and the way they played the match today. I am proud of the way they represented the University of Georgia.”