Nov. 13, 2009

Courtesy of Georgia

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Georgia soccer team got two goals from sophomore Ashley Miller en route to a 3-0 win over UNC Wilmington Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the University of North Carolina’s Fetzer Field.

The win advances the Bulldogs (15-5-1) to the second round Sunday at 1 p.m. where they will square off against the No. 1 seeded Tar Heels.

Tonight’s shutout was Georgia’s first blank sheet in an NCAA Tournament game in program history, while the team limited the Seahawks to just one shot on the evening.

“It dictates a lot for the team who scores that first goal,” Miller said. “We were just trying to get that in. They gave us a lot of time to turn. It just went in and it takes a lot off our team when we do that.”

Georgia immediately set the tone of the contest, winning loose balls and controlling the tempo from the first whistle.

The Bulldogs had several chances to score early, and struck first at the 28:08 mark in the first half when Miller took the ball all the way in from the top and beat three defenders and the keeper to put Georgia up 1-0 with her shot into the bottom right corner.

UNCW had a few late chances to tie it but couldn’t find the back of the net as Georgia kept the lead heading into the half.

At around the 55 minute mark in the contest, the Seahawks had perhaps their biggest chance of the evening when Stephanie Rose had a wide open look but let the ball get too far in front of her and Michelle Betos was able to control it for the Bulldogs.

Just like that, Georgia countered down the other end as Patterson won a loose ball off a deflection and sent it past UNCW keeper Caitlin Hunter for Georgia’s second goal. It was Patterson’s team-high 11th goal of the season.

Less than a minute later, Miller struck again as she took a pass from Natalie Farley and beat the keeper for the 3-0 lead with her second of the day and sixth of the year.

With that goal, Miller became just the fourth Bulldog in history to score two goals in an NCAA Tournament game, the first since two Georgia players did so in their first round win over Alabama A&M in Athens.

The Bulldogs were able to keep up the intensity on the defensive end and limit UNCW to just the one shot, while taking eight of their own. As time expired, UGA maintained the three-goal edge and moves on to Sunday’s second round contest.

This weekend was a homecoming for assistant coach Robin Confer, who was a standout for the Tar Heels from 1994-97.

This postseason appearance was the first for the 2009 CAA champion Seahawks.

Georgia is now 5-6-1 all-time in the tournament, including 5-2 in the first round.

“I'm excited that we have advanced,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “Scoring three goals and pitching a shutout is very important. I don't think they've been shutout in well over a month. I thought Ashley Miller was really dynamic tonight with two goals. We told Carrie [Patterson] at halftime that she had to use her speed and athleticism, and she definitely used that in scoring the second goal.”

“I don't think we were sharp, but the biggest thing is just advancing. Were going to have to play a lot better and have better possession across the board on Sunday to stand a chance. The first step is done. Now we just have to recover and prepare. UNC Wilmington had a great season and they have the right blend of experience and youth. I'm sure they will be back in the NCAA Tournament in the near future.”

The Bulldogs are now set for Sunday’s match-up with UNC, which is 3-0 all-time against Georgia in the series. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field.