TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama soccer team (8-5-2, 3-3-2 SEC) will host No. 20 Georgia (9-3-4, 4-1-3 SEC) on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. in a match that will mark Senior Day and its regular season home finale at the Alabama Soccer Stadium. The Crimson Tide is coming off a weekend in which it dropped both its matches while the Bulldogs split its two weekend games.
LAST TIME OUT
The Alabama soccer team dropped its third match in a row – a season high losing skid, as it fell to Vanderbilt, 2-0 on Sunday in Nashville. The Crimson Tide was victims of a goal just three minutes into the contest when Candace West curved in a goal on a corner kick. CJ Rhoades then netted a penalty kick in the 54th minute to cap off the scoring to earn the win. Alabama out-shot Vanderbilt 8-7, and put four on frame but was unable to find the back of the net for just the third time this season.
WHO TO WATCH
Alabama senior Victoria Frederick continues to play at a high level during conference play. The senior netted her third goal of the season and enters Thursday's contest with 12 points, adding a team-best six assists. During the league slate, Frederick leads the team with nine points on two goals and five assists. The Huntsville, Ala., native has scored at least a point every weekend for a month straight and since Sept. 12, has tallied three goals and five assists.
The Bulldogs enter Tuscaloosa ranked in all four major polls for the first time this season, earning the nod at No. 20 in the Soccer Times. Georgia is coming off just its first Southeastern Conference loss of the season as it fell in overtime, 2-1 to No. 13 ranked Florida. The loss was its first in eight matches, dating back to a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 10. As a team the Bulldogs have out-scored their opponents 29-11 and have out-shot the opposition 315-174. Georgia sports a team goals against average of 0.69. Individually Nicole Locandro paces the team with five goals and a team-best five assists. Meghan Gibbons leads the team with six goals and has added an assist for 13 points while Alexa Newfield follows with 13 points on five goals and three assists. In goal, Ashley Baker has played every minute, sporting a 0.64 goals against average while making 80 saves. Baker has posted eight shutouts and tallied a .879 save percentage. Head coach Steve Holeman is in his first season at UGA and sports a 174-127-35 record in 17 seasons overall. The Dogs finished 15-6-1 in 2009 and bowed out to North Carolina, 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The two teams will be meeting for the 14th time as Georgia holds a 10-3 all-time advantage. The Bulldogs sport a 4-2 advantage in games played in Tuscaloosa. The two teams met last season in Athens, where UGA earned a 3-0 win on Oct. 22. The Dogs defeated the Tide, 2-0 in their last meeting in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 26, 2008. The last time Alabama has defeated Georgia was by the score of 3-1 in 2004.
The matchup against Georgia will be a familiar one in more ways than one as the two teams share numerous encounters. The Duffy sisters, K.K. and Meghan, played their club soccer for Tide assistant coach Jason Lowe at Tophat, which features several players on the Georgia roster, including: Ashley Baker, Jenna Buckley, Jamie Pollock and Laura Eddy. Caroline Simpson, Kelli Corless, Marah Falle and Alex Hooker played for Coach Lowe as well. The goalkeeping matchup is even more interesting as Lowe served as UGA keeper Ashley Baker's coach since the U15 level at Tophat. Baker now plays for the U23 England National Team and will face off against Justine Bernier, who suits up for the Canadian National Team. Both keepers participated in the 2008 U20 World Cup in Chile.
Five seniors will be playing their final regular season match in front of the Tuscaloosa faithful on Thursday night. Victoria Frederick, Hailey Hull, Laura Nicholls, Rosaly Petriello and Brooke Rogers will be recognized before the match. The five players have combined to play in 222 matches and score 41 goals. The five will be recognized in a pregame ceremony at the Alabama Soccer Complex.
WESTERN DIVISION WATCH
The Alabama soccer team sits one point behind LSU and is tied with Auburn with 11 points for second place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division standings. LSU leads the table with a 3-2-3 record while rivals Alabama and Auburn follow with an equal 3-3-2 conference mark. Alabama played LSU to a scoreless tie on the road while the Tide and Auburn Tigers will meet in the regular season finale, on Oct. 29.
RACE TO ORANGE BEACH
Alabama is currently tied with two other teams with 11 points in the conference standings. The Tide sits in the seventh spot and is just ahead of Vanderbilt due to goals scored in league play with a 9-6 advantage. Just four points separates the eight place team and the third place team, as Georgia resides in that third spot with 15 points. Arkansas and Kentucky are on the outside looking in, with eight points each. South Carolina enters the weekend as the top seed with 19 points.
Alabama senior Victoria Frederick enters the weekend with her eye on a couple records. She enters Thursday's contest with 15 career assists, which ranks third in the Alabama annals. She trails the nine by Jennifer Carle and the 10 by Ashley Kirkland. She also enters the match with six assists this season, which ranks tied for second in the single season annals, one behind the record of seven held by five different players.
WHERE THEY STACK UP
Several Alabama players rank individually in the conference in numerous statistical categories. In all games played Brooke Rogers ranks fourth in goals (7) and fifth in goals per game (0.47). Victoria Frederick ranks sixth in assists (6) and assists per game (0.40). Goalkeeper Justine Bernier checks in at second in save percentage and 22nd in the country with a .865 mark while ranking fifth in goals against average (0.87) and third in shutouts per game (0.45). During conference games only, Rogers ranks eighth in goals (3) while Frederick leads the league in assists (5), assists per game (0.62) and ranks sixth in points per game with 1.12. Bernier is second in shutouts with three and ranks third in save percentage (.847) and shutouts per game (0.38).
NEXT TIME OUT