Georgia defender Kayla Bruster (25) looks for an open teammate 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 1-0 at Jack Turner Stadium on Sunday night to take its first loss of the 2020 season. The Tigers capitalized on a penalty kick opportunity in the second half, despite playing with only ten players after their goalkeeper earned a red card minutes earlier. The Bulldogs were unable to find the equalizing goal for the remainder of the game.

“It was up to us to have some quality in the final third and complete a chance and finish an opportunity that we weren't able to do so obviously we're disappointed in the result,” Georgia soccer head coach Billy Lesene said in a virtual postgame press conference. “Disappointed to not put chances away when we have the numerical advantage.”

The first half remained largely uneventful as both teams were able to generate only 8 shots total. Mollie Belisle led the charge for the Bulldogs with two shots and one on frame in the first 45 minutes.

Each side struggled to build cohesive attacks into the final third as many passes were either intercepted or deflected by the opposing team. Georgia’s most impressive performance of the half came from its defensive line as it was able to hold the Tigers to only three shots, upholding the team’s defensive mindset.

Following halftime, both sides ramped up the intensity in hopes of getting the lead, but it was Auburn that made the first move even after going a man down.

The Tigers’ goalkeeper, Maddie Prohaska, was caught outside of the box as Georgia’s Mollie Belisle broke away from her defenders and was forced to foul Belisle in the 54th minute. The foul earned Prohaska an automatic red card, requiring Auburn to finish the game with ten players.

Despite being numbers down, the Tigers found the back of the net three minutes later when Kayla Bruster committed a foul in the Bulldogs’ box to give Auburn a penalty kick opportunity. Sydney Richards tucked the ball away to the corner of the net to give the Tigers the lead that they held onto for the remainder of the game.

“It became just like a keep-away game where they decided to pack the box and at the end of the day just booted [the ball] out as big as they could,” Belisle said. “We got our shots, we had our chances, [but] at the end of the day we just weren't able to put that one shot in the back of the net.”

Georgia kept Auburn in its half for a large part of the rest of the match. The Bulldogs posted 13 of their total 21 shots after going down a goal with Belisle and Mallie McKenzie taking four and three each, respectively.

Georgia will take on Vanderbilt next on Oct. 25 in Nashville.

“Vanderbilt is a very good team,” Lesesne said. “They play a nice style of soccer, I think we'll enjoy that part. A lot of our players played with them at a different time so I think we're looking forward to the matchup.”