ATHENS, Ga. --- Sophomore Rachel Garcia scored in the 11th minute and it was all Georgia needed in a 1-0 victory over 17th-ranked UCF on Sunday afternoon at the UGA Soccer Stadium. The Bulldogs improve to 4-1-1 on the season in a game that included a one hour and five minute lightning delay in the first half.
UCF drops to 3-2-0 with today’s loss. For Georgia, it was the team’s highest-ranked win since defeating No. 17 South Carolina by a 2-0 score in Athens on Sept. 20, 2013, and completed the weekend sweep following a 4-0 win over Houston here on Friday.
“This is obviously an incredibly big result for our team,” said head coach Steve Holeman. “UCF is a fantastic team, and they’re going to win a lot of games this year. They are a great possession team, and I thought we did a great job of taking them out of their rhythm today. [Garcia’s goal] certainly gave us some confidence. It was a great throw-in by Carli [Shultis] and a low serve in by Gabby [Seiler], then Rachel had a fantastic run to finish it.”
Although the sophomore Seiler did see her school-record streak of five straight games with a goal come to an end, the midfielder earned the assist on Garcia’s game-winner and has now posted at least one point in each of Georgia’s six games in 2014 to stand with a team-best 14 on the year. For the sixth time in a row this season, the Bulldogs struck first in a game, and the win also kept Georgia perfect at 3-0 at home so far this season.
After UCF controlled much of the run of play over the first 10 minutes of today’s game, Georgia was able to take the early lead going against the flow, as Shultis started the sequence off with a strong throw-in from the right side in deep, which set up the cross from Seiler and the running finish by Garcia from close-range beating the keeper for the 1-0 lead just 10:06 in. Both Shultis and Seiler earned the helpers on the goal. It was Seiler’s team-leading fourth of the season.
From there, the momentum began to shift the Bulldogs’ favor, and sophomore Marion Crowder nearly made it 2-0 as she was set up by Seiler for a 1-v-1 chance in the center, but the UCF keeper was able to come up with the heroic point-blank stop to keep it a one-goal Georgia lead.
The lightning delay struck with just under 14 minutes to go in the first half, and after the delay the Bulldog advantage stayed there at 1-0 at halftime despite eight UGA shots.
Coming out of the intermission, Garcia had a chance for her second of the afternoon as she fired a long-ranger inside that the keeper bobbled but was able to scoop up as it bounced just in front of the goal line. Garcia then had a 1-v-1 chance of her own with 33 minutes remaining in the second half, but again the keeper made a point-blank stop to keep the Knights in it. UCF’s Tatiana Coleman nearly leveled things off as she sent a rocket in from the wing with 10 to play, but it was just wide.
Georgia had another late series of chances as Bella Hartley followed up a loose ball in the 18 with a low strike that was blocked inside, and Crowder’s follow-up attempt sailed high in the waning minutes of the game, with the Bulldogs able to hang on for the one-goal victory.
Georgia finished its day out-shooting UCF 16-9, while the Knights held the 8-1 advantage in corner kicks chances but were unable to convert any into goals. Hogrell ended with two saves on the day for Georgia, registering her third clean sheet of the season and second of the weekend.
The Bulldogs have a split weekend on tap, hosting Mercer in Athens on Friday night at 7 p.m. before traveling to face Furman on the road on Sunday at 6 p.m.