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Senior defender Cecily Stoute (24) passes the ball. 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)

In its three SEC East games played, Georgia’s defense has only given up a lone goal to Kentucky while keeping both Missouri and South Carolina off the score sheet.

“That’s so nice to hear,” senior defender Cecily Stoute said, “Between [the defenders] and [Emory Wegener], we have to keep the ball out of the net and we have to keep a shutout, so that's been our primary focus in practice and in games.”

After giving up 10 goals in four games to start SEC play, the Bulldog defense has buckled down and have not only allowed less goals, but have also allowed much less total shots and shots on goal.

In the first four SEC games against Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU and Arkansas, the Georgia defense was giving up 17.75 shots per game and eight shots on target per game. In the past three games, the Bulldogs have only allowed 11 shots per game as well as allowing 4.6 shots on goal per game.

Senior goalkeeper Emory Wegener has been a standout amongst the group as she’s made multiple one-on-one saves to keep attackers from scoring over the three game stretch. The senior had 12 saves and a save percentage of 92% over that period. Her efforts earned her fourth and fifth shutouts of the season as well as SEC defensive player of the week.

“When one of us is struggling, we can see it, and I think we're all very good at reaching out to that person, and trying to get them through the game and get them through whatever we're doing,” Wegener said.

The backline has had time to build that level of relationship with one another and to figure out how to better communicate with each other. Each player has had a multitude of minutes this season.

While defenders Kayla Bruster, Stoute and Wegener are all upperclassmen and have played together for years, freshman Jessie Dunn was thrown into the back three this season and hasn't missed a beat.

This group makes up four of the top-five in minutes played this season. Dunn has the least minutes played of the group with 1297 which is fifth-best on the team ahead of Mallie McKenzie who has played 990 minutes this season.

“As a team we say we're going to be defined by the way that we defend and I think over the last three games, we've done well in that situation,” Lesesne said.

As the Bulldogs finish out the season, they're going to need the backline to continue to perform to keep a hold of a first round bye in the SEC tournament as a sixth seed in the SEC.