No. 21 South Carolina Opens 2011 With 4-0 Shutout At ECU
Aug. 19, 2011
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By Miquel Jacobs
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Four different Gamecocks scored and two goalkeepers combined for the shutout to give No. 21 South Carolina a 4-0 shutout of East Carolina in the grand opening of the new ECU Soccer Stadium. Kayla Grimsley, Gabrielle Gilbert, Danielle Au and Maria Petroni all notched goals to lead the Gamecock offensive in the season opener.
"I'm thrilled that we came away with a great victory," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "It was a learning curve for us, so we're happy to get through the first half jitters without giving up a goal. To come out the second half and play so much better, I'm pleased with the overall performance in what we could do to improve from kickoff to the final whistle."
Grimsley started her senior season in strong form with her 34th career goal at 28:41. Sophomore forward Danielle Au was tackled in the box by ECU goalkeeper Christiane Cordero on a 1v1, and Grimsley's ensuing penalty kick was placed perfectly to give the Gamecocks the 1-0 lead.
Gilbert added Carolina's second goal courtesy of an assist by Sam McGowan at 67:27 to make the score 2-0. McGowan fed Gilbert a loose ball in the box, and Gilbert rifled it into the net from 10 yards out for her second career goal. Four minutes later, Au beat the backline and slotted the ball past the keeper for the 3-0 lead before Petroni rounded out the scoring with a breakaway goal in the final minute of play.
"We have several players we can go to and rely on to finish chances," Smith said. "That's going to make us better. Obviously Kayla will be a big part of building the offense throughout the year, but for her to free up balls for her teammates to make chances will make us that much better."
Two goalkeepers playing in their first career games combined for the shutout with six big saves in goal. Freshman Sabrina D'Angelo earned the win after grabbing four saves in the opening 76:27, and redshirt sophomore Darien Vercillo grabbed two point-blank saves in the final 13 minutes to preserve the shutout.
"They were excellent," Smith said of the goalkeepers. "That's all you can ask of two new goalkeepers. Everyone said what will you do without Mollie (Patton). We're solid in that position. We have more depth than ever. For both to come in and do what they did is tremendous. Coach Mat Cosgriff has been working them hard to get ready for this game, and he was confident in both to come out today. For Darien to jump in there and save us instantly, those are the plays we need from our goalkeepers, and they came up huge."
The grand opening of the new ECU Soccer Stadium drew 853 fans for the matchup between the Gamecocks and Pirates. East Carolina put the pressure on to begin the game and tested the true freshman D'Angelo early with a breakaway in the 18th minute that the Canadian national saved. The Gamecocks were able to slot the first goal in the 29th when Au drew the foul from the keeper to setup Grimsley's PK.
After a shaky first half besides the goal, the Gamecocks settled down in the second half to put consistent pressure on the Pirates. Grimsley twice nearly earned her first assists of the season after a ball fed to Petroni in the 58th was deflected by the keeper and a corner in the 60th met Fahey's head before bouncing off the crossbar before Gilbert put one in the net in the 68th.
For the second straight year, Gilbert scored a goal on the opening weekend after rifling a loose ball from McGowan into the back of the net. The Canadian duo entered the game less than five minutes before meeting up for the insurance goal. Less than four minutes later, Au scored the third goal.
Vercillo entered the game in the 77th and was immediately met with a shot four yards out that she saved convincingly. With a lineup of four freshman, four sophomores, one junior and two seniors in the final 10 minutes, the Gamecocks officially put the game away when Petroni scored on her breakaway from midfield.
The teams ended the match even in shots and saves, but the Gamecocks held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks. The Gamecocks are now unbeaten in their last five season openers. The team returns to action Sunday when they take on No. 12 Duke at Koskinen Stadium in Durham.