Georgia (0-0-0, 0-0-0 SEC) vs. Georgia Southern (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Sun Belt)
Date: Thursday, Aug. 18
Time: 6 p.m. EDT
Location: Athens, Ga.
Site: Turner Soccer Complex (1,682)
Live Stream: SEC Network+ (Jeff Dantzler, PxP / Tatum Hodge, Analyst)
Live Stats: GeorgiaDogs.com
Social Media: For complete information on Georgia soccer, follow the team on its social media channels via @UGASoccer on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Thursday’s match marks the sixth all-time meeting between Georgia and Georgia Southern, and the first for the programs since a 6-0 Bulldogs win on Aug. 26, 2005, in Athens. Georgia has won all five previous meetings. Georgia Southern was the Bulldogs’ first-ever road opponent in 1995, a 2-1 win for Georgia. The Bulldogs hold a 34-1-3 all-time record against in-state schools, with two more meetings this season coming against Georgia State and Kennesaw State. Additionally, Georgia is 9-0-0 all-time against members of the Sun Belt Conference.
Georgia Opens McAlpine Era and New Season
Georgia Soccer opens its 28th season Thursday evening with the first match of the Keidane McAlpine era against in-state rival Georgia Southern. McAlpine, who won the 2016 NCAA Championship at USC, is the sixth head coach in program history and carries a career .651 winning percentage into Athens. The Bulldogs are looking to continue the momentum from last season’s 11-5-3 record, which included two ranked wins. The team returns nearly 70 percent of its points and 60 percent of its minutes from last season. In the preseason SEC coaches’ poll, the Bulldogs were picked to finish tied for sixth with Vanderbilt.
Numerous Bulldogs have received preseason plaudits, with graduates Abby Boyan, Dani Murguia, and Cecily Stoute each being named to the United Soccer Coaches’ Players to Watch List. The trio was also joined by teammates Madison Haugen, Ruby Hellstrom, Mallie McKenzie, and Dasia Torbert on the SEC Preseason Watch List.
Loaded with Experience
Thanks to the NCAA’s COVID-era eligibility changes, Georgia is equipped this season with four graduate players. Abby Boyan, Cecily Stoute, and Dani Murguia all return for their fifth seasons in Athens, with the trio each earning their bachelor’s degree this year. All three players were named to both the SEC Preseason Watch List and United Soccer Coaches’ Players to Watch List. They are joined by Washington transfer Ruby Hellstrom, who scored eight goals in 37 career starts for the Huskies.
New Friends on the Pitch
Even with 17 returning letterwinners, this year’s squad features a large influx of talent with 12 newcomers: five transfers and seven freshmen. On the transfer part, Hellstrom is joined by fellow Pac-12 student-athlete Dasia Torbert, who returned home to Georgia following two seasons at UCLA. Torbert has previously played for the U.S. U18 Women’s National Team and was the No. 12 recruit in the class of 2020. The Bulldogs also welcome sophomores Alyssa Stadeker (Florida State) and Joyelle Washington (Wisconsin), along with redshirt junior Nicole Vernis (Florida), who will sit out the season due to SEC transfer regulations.
On the freshmen side, defender Cate Hardin and midfielder Millie Filson have been impressive in exhibition play, with Hardin making two starts on the backline next to veteran Cecily Stoute. Goalkeeper Jordan Brown was the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year during her 2019 sophomore season at Faith Lutheran HS in Las Vegas.
A Bulldog Legacy
Junior midfielder Dasia Torbert enters her first season at Georgia as the first legacy player in program history. Her mother, Ali Comis Bose, was a member of the inaugural four-year class that played from 1995-98, reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in her senior season. Torbert’s father, Regan, also lettered for the football team in 2000.
Off to a Hot Start
Georgia is looking to earn its third-consecutive season-opening win Thursday against Georgia Southern. Last season, the Bulldogs opened the year with a dominant 7-1 victory over Campbell, with Mollie Belisle, Dani Murguia, and Danielle Lewin each scoring two goals in the victory. In 2020, the COVID split-season began with a 1-0 result against South Carolina, as Abby Boyan scored the winning goal in the 63rd minute of play. Overall, the Bulldogs are 16-6-5 all-time in season openers.
Murguia Nears History
Last season, graduate forward Dani Murguia tied Suzannah Weathersbee’s single-season assist record with 11, knocking her career total up to 20. Murguia now sits only four behind Weathersbee for the program career record (24) and will look to set a new top mark during the season. Fellow graduate Abby Boyan is already tied for 10th all-time in assists (13) and is nearing the top-10 in both goals and shots.
Georgia welcomes No. 1 Florida State to Turner Soccer Complex on Sunday, Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. The match will be aired on ESPNU.
Admission to Turner Soccer Complex is free. The first 250 spectators will receive free season opener T-shirts. Free shirts will also be provided to the first 30 students to register for the Corner Kick Lounge.
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