Set piece misfortunes continued to plague the Georgia soccer team when it fell to No. 12 South Carolina (10-2-0) on Thursday night. The Bulldogs (4-6-3) worked hard all week on set piece defense but came up short when put to the test by a talented South Carolina team.
“We just need to not give up the chances as much and try not to give up the set pieces in the first place," sophomore defender Kayla Bruster said. I think we’re getting better. We just have to keep going forward."
While the game was even throughout the early going, it was evident early that South Carolina had a flair to its play that Georgia just didn’t. The ball moved fluidly around the pitch for the Gamecocks, and several players showed off spin moves and other fancy touches.
Georgia was without starting center back Katie Higgins after she tore her ACL in a practice session last week. Cecily Stoute, a natural right back, filled her spot in the back line and right-sided midfielder Abby Boyan dropped back into the right back spot. Despite being asked to play in a more defensive role, Boyan seemed comfortable in the new role.
“I thought they both did very well. With a team captain in Katie Higgins going down, for us to manage that [was impressive],” head coach Billy Lesesne said.
Moments of the match
46’: The lone and decisive goal of the match came right after the halftime restart. A corner kick swung in from the left side found the head of South Carolina defender Tatumn Milazzo, who lifted the ball over the outstretched mitts of Georgia keeper Emory Wegener to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we didn’t handle the direct ball they played in, and we gave up a corner I think we didn’t need to give up,” Lesesne said. “They beat us to the ball, and when you’re first to the ball you get that look, and they put it away.”
51’: South Carolina blew an opportunity to put the game to bed when defender Grace Fisk’s header narrowly missed and cannoned back off the right post.
58’: Jessie Denney created the Bulldog’s best chance of the match almost single-handedly. She made an incisive cut into the box from the left side and floated a lofted chip shot across the face of goal that forced a diving save from the retreating South Carolina keeper.
73’: Denney stood over a free kick just outside the box in what seemed like a perfect opportunity to grab an equalizer, but her shot was blocked by the jumping wall of defenders as yet another chance went begging for the Bulldogs.
Tonight’s loss marks the third in a row in SEC play for the Bulldogs after opening conference play with a 3-1 win against Arkansas.
After the match, Lesesne said he is still experimenting with back line combinations following the injury to Higgins. In the two games without her, the Bulldogs have had a different defensive lineup each time.