PENSACOLA, Fla.-- SEC East Division champion No. 2 Georgia advanced to the semifinals of the 2023 SEC Soccer Tournament with a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory over No. 7 Kentucky at the Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex. This will be the Bulldogs' 10th semifinal appearance.
Tactical changes from the UGA coaching staff after dropping to 10 people on the field and goals from Croix Bethune and Mallie McKenzie led the comeback win.
The game started out with some theatrics as UK earned a corner in the first two minutes, which resulted in UGA's Summer Denigan being handed a red card for a handball in the box. After review, the Wildcats were then awarded a penalty, which was converted by Úlfa Úlfarsdóttir, 1-0.
The momentum stayed in Kentucky's corner as the Bulldogs had to figure out the loss of the SEC's co-freshman of the year and their leading goal scorer, Denigan.
However, even with playing numbers down, Georgia was able to put the pressure on and control most of the possession. It was able to create a few opportunities, but the shots ended up being deflected by UK defenders.
First Half Quick Facts:
- 15 total shots recorded (10 Georgia, 5 Kentucky)
- Georgia played with 10 players as Denigan received a red card
- Úlfarsdóttir recored her sixth goal of the year
The Bulldogs picked up where they left off by maintaining majority of the possession.
In the 63rd minute, UGA leveled the score, 1-1, as Bethune headed a ball into the back of the net from McKenzie's cross.
The consistent dominance from the Bulldogs finally broke down the Kentucky defense in the 81st minute as McKenzie and Nicole Vernis executed a give-and-go at the right corner of the 18-yard box, leading to McKenzie's second goal of the season and giving UGA its first lead of the game, 2-1.
Bethune almost put the game away with a bending left-footed strike to the near post but goalie Marz Josephson made a diving save to tip it beyond the post.
Kentucky was inches away from tying the game in the final two minutes as Úlfarsdóttir's shot was tipped by goalie Jordan Brown and saved again off of Mia Bookhard's rebound attempt.
Second Half Quick Facts:
- Georgia held the shot advantage over Kentucky, 6-2
2' | UK - Úlfa Úlfarsdóttir, 1-0
63' | UGA - Croix Bethune, 1-1
81' | UGA - Mallie McKenzie, 2-1
No. 2 Georgia will take on No. 6 Texas A&M on Thursday (11/2) at 8:30 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
The Wildcats will return to Lexington and await the results of the NCAA Tournament Selection show on Monday, Nov. 6.