Georgia Junior Alexa Newfield Will Look To Provide The Fireworks in 2012
General | Conference Realignment Breakdown | Final 2012 Recruiting Class Rankings | Early 2013/2014 Recruiting Class Rankings | Coaching Changes
Big Sky | DI Independents | Great West | SWAC
ACC – Clemson | NC State
Big XII – Iowa State | Kansas | Oklahoma | TCU | Texas | Texas Tech
Big East – Cincinnati | DePaul | Georgetown | Notre Dame | Pittsburgh | Providence | Rutgers | Seton Hall | South Florida | St. John’s (NY) | Syracuse | UConn | Villanova
Big Ten – Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern | Purdue | Wisconsin
Mid-Majors – Central Michigan | Denver | Florida Gulf Coast | Harvard | Illinois State | La Salle | New Mexico | Rice | Richmond | Samford | Stephen F. Austin | Toledo | UMass | Utah State | Western Michigan | William & Mary
Pac-12 – Arizona | Arizona State | Cal | Colorado | Oregon | Oregon State | USC | Utah | Washington | Washington State
SEC – Alabama | Arkansas | LSU | Mississippi State | Missouri | Ole Miss | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt
WCC – BYU | Gonzaga | Loyola Marymount | Portland | San Diego | San Francisco | St. Mary’s (CA)
After a first season of new management that had been more false start than fresh start, normal service was resumed in Athens, as Georgia qualified for their fourth NCAA Tournament in five seasons and even won a match in the competition to boot. Head coach Steve Holeman had much to make up for after a season that had seen the club slip off the bubble on Selection Monday and miss out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Though UGA did get back on song last year, the Bulldogs are still looking for their first major trophy, desperately trying to buck the tag of being one of the nation’s biggest programs without a piece of silverware to their name.
While results have improved markedly over the past half-decade, Georgia still largely plays second fiddle to the fierce rivals Florida, along with upstarts South Carolina and LSU. Georgia started out as a respectable side in the mid-nineties that managed to make it to the Sweet Sixteen in 1998 but never really threatened for league titles or other silverware in the five year reign of Bill Barker. After some success at Minnesota, Sue Patberg journeyed down to UGA to try and get the Bulldogs over the hump. But consistency for UGA in the Patberg era was never a strong suit and the Bulldogs bounced up and down the SEC table with regularity.
Patberg led Georgia to two appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but she also saw the team to two losing seasons, including a year where the program bottomed out at 4-9-5 in 2004, leading to yet another change at the top of ticket for the Bulldogs.
The next five years were marked by a rise towards the upper reaches of the SEC but also by some crushing failures just as the program seemed to be set to take the next step towards the elite of the league. 2007 saw UGA come tantalizingly close to a shock league title, as the program beat Florida for the first time in program history and finished just behind the Gators in the final league table. Georgia would get to the SEC Tournament final as well but were spanked by a Florida team desperate for revenge. The Bulldogs would find little solace in the NCAA Tournament either, being upset by opportunistic Duke in the second round.
2008 saw Georgia sink back to .500 after playing a suicidal non-conference schedule and needing a rally through the SEC Tournament to make it back to the Big Dance. UGA ended up playing well towards the end of the season and made it to the SEC Tournament final for the second year running but were dealt a stunning defeat at the hands of a Tennessee team they had beaten easily a little more than a week earlier. The Bulldogs would be humbled further in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, dropping a match to CAA side James Madison.
At this point, the program seemed to sink into decline. 2009 may have seen UGA make it back to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but they were also crushed by LSU in Baton Rouge, 6-0, and also dealt damaging losses by sides like Ole Miss and Auburn. With a veteran side, mid-table and elimination at the quarterfinal stage in the SEC Tournament was very much against expectations going into the season.
That the head coaching job came open in the spring may have been a bit of a shock at the time, but many thought some new blood in the hot seat could do the program some good. That that new face was Ole Miss boss Holeman was certainly not expected, as most believed a promotion from within was in the cards. Holeman certainly knew the territory having been a long-time coach in the SEC with Auburn and Ole Miss and had overachieved with the Rebels at times. But considering the lack of trophies he had brought to Oxford, it was a bit of an eyebrow raising appointment, especially for a program aspiring for a rise into the nation’s elite.
With a strong recruiting class being inherited for his first season in charge, some tipped Holeman’s side to be a real wild card in the SEC despite having to account for some serious losses from the previous season’s side. Despite having their moments at times in non-conference play, the club struggled to put together significant wins and were frighteningly inefficient in front of goal despite not losing any of their first seven in the league. A long line of draws left Georgia precariously placed heading into the stretch run, and losing three of their final four in the regular season left much work needing to be done in the SEC Tournament. In the end, one win in the competition didn’t cut it, and Georgia found itself on the outside looking in, with too many opportunities to add to their profile having been spurned.
The lingering effects of that disappointment seemed to hang around the program heading into 2011, and the first homestand of the season was marked by back-to-back defeats to Texas and Villanova, results that would loom large later on as fortunes for both soured. But Georgia used a hard fought 2-1 win on the road at Minnesota to kick their season into gear, and the Bulldogs won their next five to build some momentum heading into the league. 2-2-0 in the first two weekends of the SEC season made for a tepid start, but the club still had managed to beat eventual league champs South Carolina, proving to be the Gamecocks’ bogey club once again.