A lone second-half goal by Georgia’s Marion Crowder ended up being the winner in Georgia’s (9-1, 2-0) 1-0 shutout of Missouri (5-5, 1-1) on Friday.
It was the first time Missouri was shutout this season.
The game was an even match throughout the first half. Despite being outshot 11-3, the Tigers had just as many opportunities to score as the Bulldogs. Freshman Melanie Donaldson’s sliding rocket and sophomore Reagan Russell’s shots were only a few of the great chances Georgia keeper Caitlin Woody stopped on the night.
Still, the game went on. The Tigers defense came out huge throughout the night with solid play. Bulldogs striker Madeline Barker tortured the Tigers in the first half, making Missouri junior keeper Mackenzie Sauerwein adjust her defense every few minutes. Despite having freshman Erin Webb, one of the Tigers’ best defenders tailing Barker, the Bulldog forward gave Webb all managed to give Georgia multiple scoring chances.
“With Webb, I think she was very nervous,” coach Bryan Blitz said. “She had a freshman moment, and I think she recovered well when she came back in, so hats off to her.”
The Tigers were able to keep things scoreless at halftime thanks to brilliant play from Sauerwein in goal. Sauerwein had five saves in the first half, the most she has had in the first half all year.
The Tigers’ plethora of scoring chances continued into the second half with seniors Danielle Nottingham and Dominique Richardson both having chances to give the Tigers the lead. Nottingham, who had missed the last seven games with an injury, got the start for Missouri and had two shots in 59 minutes.
“It felt good to get back on the field. I’ve been waiting for this for the past two weeks,” Nottingham said of her return.
Crowder’s goal came in the 60th minute as she slipped past sophomore Lauren Flynn and took a pass from Rachel Garcia for 40 yards, tallying her eighth goal this season.
The Tigers would once again have multiple chances to tie but were unable due to some sloppy play and unneeded extra touches in the box. Despite picking up the offensive pressure significantly in match’s final 10 minutes, they were unsuccessful in their search for an equalizer.
“We were timid,” Blitz said. “We gave them so much respect. We need to make aggressive mistakes, and we made timid mistakes.”
The game was a tale of two halves in Sauerwein’s eyes, with the Tigers outshooting the Bulldogs 9-5 in the second half after a slow first half.
“I think we struggled connecting both of our halves tonight,” Sauerwein said of the loss. “We always come out really strong then slacked the first half and came out strong in the second half.”
The Tigers now turn their attention to hosting No. 8 Florida on Sunday. The Gators beat the Tigers twice last season, including a 2-0 win in the SEC tournament semi-finals. With the game being televised on ESPNU, Blitz looks at Sunday as a way to show what the team is really made of.
“I think we have a awesome opportunity on Sunday to show who we are and what we can do,” he said.