Georgia Soccer Host Season-Opener Friday Night

ATHENS – The University of Georgia soccer team hosts Georgia Southern to open up its season under the lights at the Georgia Soccer Complex on Friday, August 26, at 7:00 p.m. The game will mark the inaugural contest of new head coach Patrick Baker's Georgia career, as he looks to start his team off to a winning pace.

"We are very excited to get going," said Baker. "If this team can get off to a good start, it would do a world of good for their confidence. If we can gain some momentum in our out-of-conference games and carry into SEC play, we could really do something special."

"Friday night will be the first step onto the field for both teams this season," continued Baker. "Right now we are really just focused on ourselves. We do not have very much information on Georgia Southern so we just need to make sure we take care of our preparation. We just need to go out and execute within our system and with our personnel."

When discussing keys to the game, Baker stuck to his belief in defense and transition play. He also looked back to the scrimmage against N.C. State to give a hint of what his team must do better.

"We need to continue to defend well," said Baker. "That starts up top and works it's way back. Defense is definitely a premium with us, a tremendous point of emphasis. From our defense we need to be a little better in transition and get into our attacking shape and frame of mind better. We did score two goals in the scrimmage (a 2-0 Georgia victory), but had trouble solving the restraining line and solving their last man back. We must be better at that on Friday night."

The Eagles of Georgia Southern are a relatively unfamiliar opponent to Baker and his staff.

"We have seen some footage from 2002, but so much has changed," said Baker. "They have a lot of different players from last year and they are a very youthful team that has a lot of experience at the youth level."

Georgia will look to continue the trend of superb home attendance that has led to a top-10 attendance figure nearly every year since the existence of the program. In the 2004 season, Georgia drew an average of 1,267 people, good for sixth-best nationally. As far as home-openers go, the largest crowd came out in 2003, as 3,312 of the Georgia faithful came out for a Sept. 5 game with Illinois. 2004's home-opener against Colorado drew 1,733 fans.

"We have traditionally drawn very well at home," said Baker. "We would love to have another top-10 home attendance again this year. Fan support is very important to us and we feel like the crowd can really be a ‘12th man' for our squad. In return, we will put an exciting product on the field. We're going to defend all over the pitch, try to maintain possession, try to be dynamic going forward and ultimately score a lot of goals. If we can maintain that formula every time we are on our home field, we can make it mean something this year. If we do our part and win some games, we hope the fans will keep on coming out in great numbers."

History leans in the Bulldogs' direction this weekend, as Georgia holds an all-time record of 6-2-2 in home-openers and a 7-1-2 mark in season-opening contests. The Soccer Dogs have posted a perfect 4-0 record against Georgia Southern. The last meeting between the two teams was in 2003, as Georgia found itself on the winning end of a 3-0 decision in Statesboro. In the four games, the Bulldogs have outscored the Eagles 13-3.

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