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Georgia goalkeeper Emory Wegener (11) goes up for a save during a game against Virginia Tech on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, at the Turner Soccer Complex in Athens, Georgia. The Virginia Tech Hokies defeated the Bulldogs 2-0. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

The Georgia soccer team dropped its first conference game against South Carolina Friday night on the road. The Bulldogs were unable to block the Gamecocks’ penalty opportunities and shots on goal, falling 3-0 in Stone Stadium. 

In its first SEC appearance of the season, Georgia held on to a scoreless game until late in the first half. After four shots on goal and two on frame by South Carolina, the Gamecocks’ Riley Tanner found the back of the net in the 37th minute. 

Shortly after, Georgia sophomore goalkeeper Emory Wegener saved a penalty kick opportunity by South Carolina’s midfielder Lauren Chang, but Chang was able to recover the ball for a goal to put the Gamecocks up 2-0 going into the half. 

“Difficult one for us,” head coach Billy Lesesne said. “Obviously South Carolina’s a really talented team. I thought we played fairly well in the first half, then were unfortunate to give up a penalty late in the second half which kind of turned the tide of the game.”

Over the course of the 90 minute game, the Bulldogs took nine shots compared to the Gamecocks’ 10, with two being on frame. Freshman Tori Wheeler and sophomore Cecily Stoute both contributed to close shots on goal. 

South Carolina’s Chang was able to secure a brace and cushion the Gamecocks’ lead to three on a goal early into the second half at the 50-minute mark.

Over the course of the game, Georgia took seven corner kicks in the attacking third and only allowed two to South Carolina in their own box. 

“Again, we’re going to be these battles and we have to be more effective in the final third,” said Lesesne.  “It came down to the battle of the boxes and I think they won the critical areas of the field where I thought our build-up play was good, but we weren’t able to capitalize in the final third.”

Friday’s loss on the road contradicts last week’s 2-0 win against in-state rival Georgia State for the Bulldogs’ first win in an away game in two years. 

Georgia will return home to Athens Sunday to celebrate Senior Day at the Turner Soccer Complex, celebrating Daria Stan and Keely Cartrett. The Bulldogs take on Furman in their last non-conference game of the season. 

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