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Georgia senior Daria Stan is honored during a senior recognition ceremony before the game. The University of Georgia soccer team hosted Furman to beat them 2-0 on Sept. 22, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

Keely Cartrett was beaming as she talked about the Georgia soccer locker room.

On Sunday, her locker had been covered with pictures of friends and teammates and inspirational quotes. Daisies and sunflowers decorated the spot where her No. 2 jersey usually hangs, and three little mason jars — filled with candy corn, York peppermint patties, and M&M's — sat below.

Sunday afternoon’s match against Furman at Turner Soccer Complex was more than just a 2-0 win. For Cartrett, Daria Stan and Jessie Harvey, it was senior day.

Cartrett and Stan started the game at defender and midfielder, respectively,  while Harvey stood on the sidelines. After an injury during her junior season, Harvey transitioned into a student assistant coach role.

“[Jessie]’s still working through the rehab process with her injury,” head coach Billy Lesesne said. “It’s been really nice to see her doing some charting and doing some coaching-type things and being involved in the process of preparing our goalkeepers and our team.”

Sunday’s match marked the team’s last non-conference game of the season, and the trio of seniors has only five more chances to play or coach as students at home. For Cartrett, the looming end of the season was the sad undertone of senior day. Amid the celebration, gifts and love from teammates, the seniors knew that Sunday meant the beginning of the end.

“I think it’s really hard because, I don’t know, it’s kind of coming to an end, and that’s the realization,” Cartrett said.

The family atmosphere is what makes Georgia soccer special, Stan said. She has said goodbye to three classes of seniors before her but said even though the makeup of the team changes year-to-year, the feeling stays the same.

“The girls on this team are my family ever since I came here,” Stan said. “Each year we get a new group of girls and another group of girls leaves, but at the same time … we never lose that feeling of family.”

Georgia's two goals against Furman were scored by junior Ashley Andersen, who had never scored before Sunday. She scored her first goal on an assist from Tori Wheeler in the 31st minute. Andersen said she wasn’t sure if Wheeler’s pass was going to make it past the first defender, but once it did, the next thing she remembers was the ball hitting the back of the net. Her second goal came only three minutes later. It was a product of being zoned in and ready to execute what she and Stan had been practicing, Andersen said. 

“I knew once she hit it — I knew it was coming and all I had to do was time it,” Andersen said. “I hit the crossbar against Clemson on a header, so I was not going to miss this one.”

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