Feb. 25, 2012
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. - No. 5 South Carolina put on a dominating performance in both Western and Hunt Seat action on Saturday, as the Gamecocks stunned No. 1 Auburn, 12-6, at One Wood Farm. South Carolina won three of four MVP's on Saturday, all three of which were won by freshman.
The Tigers suffered their worst regular season loss since Feb, 9, 2008, when the Gamecocks defeated Auburn, 14-5.
Saturday's win marks the equestrian team's first win over a No. 1 team since Gamecocks knocked off No. 1 Georgia, 12-8, on Feb. 21, 2009. Saturday's win is the program's third win over a top-ranked team, as the Gamecocks also toppled then-No. 1 Auburn, 10-8, on Feb. 7, 2009.
"This win was huge, not just because Auburn is the No. 1 team, but because of how well we rode today," South Carolina head coach Boo Major said. "We knew we matched up well against them, so for our ladies to rally the way they did and beat the defending national champions, it really says a lot. We've had some extremely close losses this season, but our girls never got down, and today they just couldn't be stopped."
Saturday's meet began in the upper arena as both teams faced off in Reining. The Gamecocks won the event, 2-1, as Carolina's Reiners are now undefeated in the last three meets.
Freshman Layla Choate scored the first point of the meet, a 71-69 decision over Auburn's Kristin Hansen. Choate's 71 was an event-high and she was named MVP for her performance, her second of the season, as her record now sits at 4-4. Junior Amanda Pope improved her record to 4-2 with a 67.5-64.5 win over the Tigers' Stephanie Rucci.
"Our reiners set the tone for today's meet, no doubt about it," Major said. "To hold Auburn to only one point in one of their stronger events, that obviously got the rest of our team pumped up and ready to go."
Training 2-1 heading into the second event of the day, the Tigers rallied, winning three of five points in Equitation Over Fences to tie the meet at 4-4.
South Carolina's Carolyn Curcio and Katherine Schmidt scored the Gamecocks' two points in jumping, but the Tigers won the final three, tying the score at four apiece. Schmidt scored first for the Gamecocks, knocking off Auburn's Jennifer Waxman, 83-71, to improve her jumping record to 6-3. Curcio followed up with an 87-83 win over Quincy Hayes, improving her record to 4-1-1 in Equitation Over Fences. Auburn's Maggie McAlary earned MVP honors for posting an event-high score of 90, as she defeated Gamecock senior Paige Dekko.
With the competition tied at four apiece, the meet headed back to the upper arena for Horsemanship and Equitation on the Flat.
South Carolina dominated that second half of the meet, winning eight of the final ten points, to beat Auburn in Blythewood for the first time since Feb. 9, 2008.
"After jumping, we really felt good about where things stood," Major said. "We really stepped it up in the second half, and our Flat and Horsemanship teams delivered for us today, and that proved to be the difference."
In Horsemanship, the Gamecocks won four of five points, highlighted by freshman Sam Chiodo's second MVP win of the season. Chiodo scored an event-high 74.5 to defeat Auburn's Stephani Rucci, who scored a 72.5 Chiodo is now 4-3 in her first season as a Gamecock.
Sophomore Johnna Letchworth improved to 8-1 with her victory over Indy Roper, and Alison Ceresani improved to 7-2 win a one-point win over Katie Buff. Senior captain Maggie Fortune knocked off the Tigers' Chelsea Zillner, 68.5-68 to improve her record to 5-2-2.
In Equitation on the Flat, the Gamecocks dropped the first point, but went on to win the final four, clinching the Hunt Seat portion of Saturday's meet, 6-4.
Sophomore Emma Johnson scored the first Flat point for the Gamecocks, as she knocked off Auburn's Christina Lin by 14 points. Schmidt followed her up with another 2-for-2 day, as she scored an event-high 90 to defeat the Tigers' Lindsay Portela by ten points.
Junior Logan Holler improved her record to 5-0 this season with a 79-74 win over Jennifer Delman. Senior captain Colvin Hedgepeth put away Auburn's Anna Becker, 85-84 to give Carolina its 12th point of the meet as the Gamecocks doubled up the Tigers on the scoreboard.
The Gamecocks close out their regular season tomorrow when they host No. 4 Baylor at 11 a.m. Prior to Sunday's meet against the Bears, South Carolina will hold its Senior Day ceremony at approximately 10:35 a.m.
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