No. 24 Gamecocks Fall On Golden Goal At Minnesota
Aug. 19, 2012
By Miquel Jacobs
MINNEAPOLIS - No. 24 South Carolina played its second overtime match of the weekend but earned its first loss of the season in a 2-1 decision at Minnesota Sunday afternoon.
Lani Smith scored her first career goal for the Gamecocks (0-1-1) in the final second of the first half to tie the match, but Minnesota's Haley Helverson hit the golden goal for the Gophers (1-1-0) in the 97th minute. Rae Wilson scored the assist on South Carolina's goal.
Darien Vercillo had a career high four saves in goal for the Gamecocks. The match marked the first time that South Carolina has opened a season with consecutive overtime matches.
"It was a great test for us," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "We're preparing for conference games. It's a battle. Unfortunately we didn't get it through in overtime, but the girls played with a lot of heart. That's what I wanted to see. We played a lot of players, so we got a lot out of the weekend. Credit to Minnesota to hang in there and get that goal in overtime. It's something we'll learn from and get better."
Minnesota took advantage early with a goal in the opening 90 seconds after last year's Big Ten Freshman of the Year Taylor Uhl found herself the recipient of a ball over the top of the defense near midfield. Uhl raced to the goal and slotted the ball in the far post to give the Gophers the early lead.
South Carolina was able to get movement down the left flank in the opening portions of the match, but Minnesota's left back was able to use her speed to cut off the service attempts into the box. The Gamecocks had their best look of the half in the 14th with a Christa Neary free kick that went over the charging hands of Gopher goalkeeper Cat Parkhill, but Caroline Gray's play with an open net was stopped by a defender.
The Gophers were afforded a few more opportunities via Uhl with a shot in front of the net in the 12th that went high, a play in the 27th that Vercillo was able to corral out of danger and another breakaway in the 44th that was saved by Vercillo. The final opportunity of the half went to South Carolina however with Smith's goal in the final second keeping the teams even at the break. With the announcer counting down the final 10 seconds, Vercillo's ball to the midfield was flicked up by Rae Wilson to Smith for a desperation shot near 25 yards out that squeaked through Parkhill's hands and slowly rolled six yards across the goal line as time expired.
"To get a goal before the half was something that was a positive going into (halftime)," Smith said. "We built off that momentum (in the second half). We wanted to get after them and put ourselves in better areas behind their backs. I thought we were more threatening and dangerous (in the second half). We defend well but we have to put the chances away when we have them. We'll get better at that."
South Carolina was off to a quicker offensive start in the second half, forcing Parkhill to make two saves in the first 10 minutes of the stanza. After being held to one shot in the first half, the Gamecocks played the role of aggressors in the second and put together the closest scoring opportunities throughout the half. South Carolina came close to earning the advantage in the 79th after a header from a Neary free kick went over the net, and Coryn Bajema's rifle in the 82nd forced Parkhill to make a diving tip save to keep the freshman off the board.
On the other side, Minnesota almost found themselves the beneficiaries of a near own goal by the Gamecocks on a mis-clearance that clanged off the top of the post and out. A breakaway in the 88th then put Vercillo into action as she ran off her line to stop the attack before a shot could get off.
Heading into the second overtime match of the weekend, the Gamecocks nearly put it away early with a Bajema shot beating the goalkeeper but sliding just wide of the net. The Gophers would seal the deal in the 97th after a service across the mouth of the goal had a swing and miss by a Minnesota player before then meeting Haley Helverson for a rocket into the net.
South Carolina heads home for a six-match homestand beginning with the home opener against Mercer Thursday night at 7 p.m.