Aug. 27, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina combined two first half goals with a stingy defense to shutout College of Charleston 2-0 in the women's soccer season opener held at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium. With the win, the Gamecocks move to 1-0 on the year while the Cougars fall to 0-1.
Senior midfielder Kim Miller and sophomore forward Kayla Grimsley scored for South Carolina as the Gamecocks improve to 4-1-2 all-time against the Cougars. It was the first match between the intra-state rivals since the 2002 season.
Miller scored the first point of the season for South Carolina in the 14th minute courtesy of a free kick. Grimsley was fouled by the Cougars on a run that set up the set piece 25 yards out. Almost centered in front of the goal, Miller let loose a high shot that went over the keeper's fingertips for the 1-0 lead.
Kortney Rhoades almost added another score five minutes later with a strike that caused College of Charleston keeper Sarah Wiggers to again stretch to the top of the net in order to collect the save. The Gamecocks, however, were able to get the second goal in the 30th minute when senior midfielder Lindsay Small sent a perfect ball to Grimsley on the right side, who then beat the defender for a goal to the far corner. It was the ninth career goal for the sophomore and Preseason All-SEC selection.
Through the duration of the first half, Carolina controlled run of play almost singlehandedly. The Cougars were held without a shot the entire opening half of the match. Traditionally a stingy defensive unit with a trio of three-year starters - including Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate Blakely Mattern - the Gamecocks did not allow College of Charleston to attempt a shot until Amanda Raymond attempted one following a corner kick in the 65th minute. South Carolina finished the game with an 11-2 shot advantage, highlighted by a 7-1 edge in shots on goal.
"(Limiting shots is) something we expect because of the quality of defense we play," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "We take a lot of time working on our organization as a team, not just the back four. I thought they did an excellent job to stay tight and eliminate second chances. The players we brought in kept their level up. I'm really happy with the way they defended as a whole."
With a modified unit starting the second period, South Carolina continued to play possession ball. Rhoades, a sophomore transfer from St. Joseph's University, almost scored again in the 51st with a strong strike from 40 yards out that was saved by the keeper to end the threat. In the final 45 minutes, the Cougars were able to attempt three corner kicks, but each attack was thwarted by the Gamecocks to preserve the shutout victory.
Redshirt junior Mollie Patton got the start in goal for South Carolina and registered one save in her eighth career shutout. South Carolina improves to 8-5-2 all-time in season openers.
"We have a lot of pride when we play on this field," Smith said. "The girls showed it tonight. There are things we definitely need to work on which is always the case when you start a new season. I thought they did very well to adjust to things we talked about in the preseason. It was tremendous to finish early in the game. That makes a huge difference in games when you can score early."
South Carolina returns to the pitch Sunday when the Gamecocks host Western Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday is Dad's and Daughter's Day at Stone Stadium. The South Carolina women's soccer team will hold a question and answer session with dads that come to the game with their daughters following the match. It is also $1 Hot Dog Day.
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