BATON ROUGE, La. - With a dramatic goal in the final minute of overtime, the University of Georgia soccer team upset No. 5 LSU, 2-1, Sunday afternoon before 1,234 spectators at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
With only 45 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, graduate defended Kayla Bruster stole the ball and passed it ahead to graduate forward Mollie Belisle for the game-winning score, her nation-leading 12th of the season. The goal sealed Georgia's first victory over a top-five opponent since a 2-1 win over No. 4 Texas A&M on Sept. 27, 2015.
"Not an easy place to play, a great team to play against, and our kids battled for 90 minutes plus," said Georgia head coach Billy Lesesne following the match. "I'm just incredibly proud of their work ethic and what they earned at the end of this match is something we can hopefully build on. Incredibly proud of this group."
LSU (8-2-0, 1-2-0 SEC) outshot Georgia (8-2-1, 1-1-1 SEC), 23-17, making Sunday the first win of the season in which the Bulldogs were outshot. Senior midfielder Dani Murguia led the Bulldogs wih five shots, while Belisle and senior midfielder Abby Boyan each posted four. In goal, senior goalkeeper Emory Wegener set a new career high with 10 saves.
In the early moments, Georgia found itself with a couple of great chances, but a pair of shots from Murguia and Boyan went high. The Bulldogs would soon get on the board as Boyan drew a foul on a tackle in the box, leading to Murguia's second penalty make of the season in the 13th minute. Later in the half, Bruster helped stop an LSU scoring chance as she narrowly cleared a Tigers cross inside the six.
LSU soon found its equalizer, taking advantage of Georgia's first yellow card of the season called on freshman midfielder Morgan Hart. After the initial free kick was stopped on a diving save by Wegener, Tiger forward Rammie Noel knocked in the deflection in the 29th minute. The Tigers almost added another score before halftime, but a diving save from Wegener helped maintain the margin.
Early in the second half, Murguia nearly tacked on another score as she blocked the LSU keeper's clearance, but she was unable to convert after being tackled in the box. On the ensuing Tiger possession, Wegener continued her strong play with a leaping rejection on a long strike from outside the 18. In the 55th minute, sophomore forward Madison Haugen earned two great looks, but strong play from the LSU defense kept the match tied.
Belisle also missed out on a pair of scoring opportunities, kicking high on an empty net and just missing the net with a header off a corner kick. In the 66th minute, senior midfielder Bella Ponzi earned Georgia's second yellow card of the match, but the LSU free kick was fruitless. Two minutes later, the Tigers nearly took the lead with the shot just hitting the right post.
In the 82nd minute, LSU looked to go ahead with a free kick, but a pair of critical saves from Wegener helped her clinch her new personal-best mark. The streak of close calls continued for Georgia as Murguia and junior forward Mallie McKenzie both faced open looks in the stretch run as the teams headed to overtime.
The overtime period was mostly quiet until the final moments as Bruster dispossessed an LSU player and sent the ball ahead to Belisle, who deposited the game winner in the left corner of the net with just 45 seconds remaining in the period.
Georgia returns home next weekend as it hosts Arkansas on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. at the Turner Soccer Complex. Admission is free for all spectators and the match will be aired on ESPNU.
For complete information on Georgia soccer, follow the team on its social media channels via @UGASoccer on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.