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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)

The Georgia soccer season is at its halfway point with the Bulldogs going 2-0-2 for the program’s best-ever start to conference play. The No. 12 ranked Bulldogs are currently tied with Mississippi State for third place in the SEC with eight points.

Following the 2019 season when the Bulldogs reached the SEC tournament for the first time since 2015, Georgia has continued on last year’s momentum into a strong start.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season is only eight SEC-only games before every team will travel to Orange Beach, Alabama, for the SEC tournament. With the first half of the season complete, here are some thoughts from the first four games of action.

Defined by defense

Georgia is second in the SEC in goals allowed so far, only allowing two goals in four games played, one of which being a penalty kick against Kentucky. Auburn currently sits in first allowing one goal, but the Tigers have only played two games so far this season.

Last season, Georgia let in six goals through their first four games of the season. The Bulldogs are tied for ninth in the country with Kansas in goal-against average, only averaging .450 goals allowed per game.

Georgia goalkeeper Emory Wegener is leading the SEC with two shutouts and is fifth in the conference with 19 saves over four games.

In front of Wegener is the backline of Cecily Stoute, Kayla Bruster and Caroline Chipman who have started together all four games. Out of the potential 400 minutes played this season, Bruster is one of three players on the roster to have played the entirety of the minutes. Stoute has played 392 minutes and Chipman has clocked 353.

Georgia’s remaining four games of the season include some of the weaker attacking teams in the SEC in Auburn, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Missouri.

Out of those four teams, Vanderbilt leads the group with five goals scored in four games. Ole Miss is last in the conference with only one goal scored, Auburn is 12th with two goals scored and Missouri is tied for seventh with four goals scored in three games.

Lack of production in the attack

While the Bulldogs’ defense is one of the best in the SEC, the attack and finishing in the final third has been the missing ingredient for Georgia so far this season.

The Bulldogs currently sit tied for seventh in the conference with four goals scored in four games. Georgia’s one goal per game average ranks tied for ninth in the conference only ahead of LSU and Auburn.

Despite being in the bottom half of the table in goals scored, the Bulldogs are second in the conference in shots taken. Georgia has taken 61 shots in four games, seven behind Arkansas’ 68 shots. The Razorbacks lead the conference in goals scored.

Continuing her form of playing every minute last year, junior midfielder Abby Boyan has played every minute in 2020 and leads the team with two goals this year. Chloe Chapman and Jessica Denney both have one goal apiece.

Two of Georgia’s next four games are against the two worst defenses in the SEC. Vanderbilt and Missouri have both let up seven goals this season, tied for next to last in the conference. On the other end of the standings, Auburn are atop the conference only allowing one goal in two games played. Ole Miss is in the middle of the standings tied for seventh with Tennessee allowing five goals in four games.

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