For the first time since Sept. 13, the Georgia soccer team scored a goal.
The goal, however, was not enough to stave off elimination from postseason contention. After a 1-1 draw against Alabama on Sunday, Georgia’s hopes to compete in Orange Beach for the 2018 SEC Tournament were dashed.
Kaley Verpaele scored a goal for Alabama and Georgia midfielder Abby Boyan equalized the score in the 59th minute.
Even after two 10 minute periods of overtime, Georgia could not muster an additional goal that would have kept them alive for one more day.
Because it was a do-or-die match, both the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide only used three defenders to facilitate their offensive attacks.
The revamped lineup construction gave the teams more midfielders.
“Both teams needed a win here so both of us came out in 3-5-2s,” Georgia head coach Billy Lesesne said. “We knew it was going to be an open game…[The new lineup] puts a little more pressure on you defensively…If you’re going for it, trying to get a 'W' there, that’s a good way to do it, to get more possession on your attacking half of the field.”
It seemed to work early on for Georgia, but in what has been a motif all season, the team could not capitalize on several opportunities throughout the first half.
The Bulldogs had possession in the penalty box almost immediately after the first whistle. The opportunity culminated with a shot on goal from Weldon Kolker. The missed shot was Georgia’s best opportunity in the game, Lesesne said.
Even with only three defenders, Georgia’s defense once again stepped up to the occasion.
“I thought we defended for the most part well,” Lesesne said. “We competed. We were involved in the final third. I think we spent a lot more time in the final third then we have in past games because our ball-letting was better.”
Moments of the Match
48’: Verpaele’s header proved out of reach for Georgia goalkeeper Emory Wegener.
59’: Boyan, who had impressed the crowd all day with her agility, perfectly placed a ball underneath the cross bar and over the outstretched arms of the Alabama goalkeeper to equalize the score. The goal was Boyan’s fourth of the season.
35’: A Georgia defender jumped to block Alabama’s shot from distance. The header was successful, but the ball ended up at the feet of another Alabama player, Nealy Martin, who tried to punch it in. Wegener, however, denied Martin’s shot. Wegener had a total of six saves on Sunday.
Georgia has one more game left. The unranked Bulldogs will travel to play the unranked Kentucky Wildcats, who have not won a game in 2018.
The team still has something to play for, Lesesne said.
“It’s all about our pride and getting better,” Lesesne said. “To finish the season with a win, not that many people have an opportunity to do that. I’m excited to head with this bunch up to Lexington.”