Gabby Seiler scored her fourth goal in four games on Sunday afternoon and this time it was “golden,” as the sophomore found the back of the net in overtime to lift the Georgia soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Cal State Fullerton at Titan Stadium.
Seiler posted the game-winner in the 96th minute after earning an assist on Georgia’s first goal of the day. The Peachtree City native already has 10 points to her name in 2014, including five on the California road swing to match the five on opening weekend that led to her snagging SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The win seals a West Coast weekend split for the Bulldogs (2-1-1), who return home to Athens with the victory in hand following Friday’s 3-2 heartbreaker at Long Beach State. Georgia is back at home for two next weekend, welcoming Houston and UCF to Athens.
“It feels great,” said head coach Steve Holeman. “We knew today that in this heat on the road on a Sunday afternoon that we would have to be very, very good at keeping the ball. I thought our possession was much better than it was on Friday. We had a great first half, and then the second half got away from us a little bit and they were able to tie it up. Our girls showed a lot of persistence and perseverance to get the game-winner.”
“She’s a special player,” Holeman said of Seiler. “She’s no longer a secret, not that she was last year. She is fantastic. Half our game plan is to get the ball to Gabby and let her do her thing. She creates for herself, she creates off the dribble, and she creates for others. She makes others around her better.”
It was sophomore Rachel Garcia who scored in the first half to put Georgia up 1-0 – her first of the season – in the 24th minute. Freshman Becca Rasmussen started the play in the midfield, dishing to Seiler who passed it off to Kelsey Killean. Killean’s far-post ball inside found the foot of Garcia, who was running on and buried it into the back of the net. Georgia has now led in all four games this season, scoring first in each of them.
Garcia had another opportunity later in the frame as she headed on a Mariel Gutierrez free kick service, but the offering went wide left.
The Titans equalized in the 79th minute to eventually send it to overtime, tying it up with under 12 minutes to go as freshman Tala Haddad scored an unassisted goal after she worked to force the UGA back line into a turnover and sent it past Louise Hogrell in goal to make it 1-1.
And it was Seiler who would break through for the winner under six minutes into the first extra period, the play having started at midfield with a Garcia header, helped on with a touch from Killean, and Seiler finishing past the keeper – who was charging out of her box at the loose ball. For Seiler, it was the fourth goal of the year and third coming on the road. It was her first game-winning goal of the season and second of her career – the other also coming in overtime last season at home vs. Jacksonville.
The Bulldogs will take on Houston next Friday night at 7 p.m., followed by UCF on Sunday at 1 p.m.