Sept. 7, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. - Erin Sullivan tied the game in the 77th minute and Darcel Mollon hit the game winner eight minutes later to give No. 13 South Carolina a 2-1 victory over UC Davis in the opening game of the UCF Tournament.
Head coach Shelley Smith recorded the 100th victory of her career while the Gamecocks (3-0) match the best start in school history.
"It's a milestone," Smith said. "I go by games a season, and 100 wins is great but I hope to have many more. I'm just happy we won today and hope we do well during the season."
After 73 minutes of shutout soccer, UC Davis went on the board as Samantha Faber dribbled across the box to push the ball past a diving Lindsay Thorstenson into the right corner of the net. Carolina responded quickly on the attack and got the equalizer from Sullivan at 76:57. Sullivan struck a zinger in mid-air from 25 yards out to hit her second goal of the season.
"Sullivan scored a great goal," Smith said. "They were two great goals for us. We brought her out of the game and rested her. We put her out wide to give us a different look. We changed things up, brought her back in she's made the difference for us. She's been very good and stepped up, and I'm confident that others will do the same when they're called upon."
Mollon then went on the offensive, using her speed to get around the defense for looks on the goal. One attempt sailed wide left in the 81st minute, but the senior's look at 84:34 was good and put the Gamecocks in the lead. Mollon took a play from Kim Miller and dribbled to the goal before looping around the goalkeeper and getting the score into the short side.
"I'm impressed by this group," Smith said. "It shows how we've learned and come together as a team. In the past, if we went down a goal it would have gotten to us. It's hard to come back. That's part of having a young squad a couple of years ago. This squad is much more experienced. They continue to play and did a great job to do what they had to do to win the game. That's the difference between good teams and great teams. I think we have a chance to be a great team if we continue to do that."
South Carolina held a 19-9 shot advantage with 10 on target, but UC Davis goalkeeper and Big West Player of the Week Sarah Peters thwarted the Carolina attack with seven saves. Thorstenson, the Soccer America and NSCAA Player of the Week, recorded four saves in goal for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks controlled the first half but came away with no points on 10 shots. Carolina enjoyed a 10-4 shot advantage in the opening stanza with five on goal. Danila Monteiro and Mollon gave Carolina its best shot at goals in the 19th and 27th minutes, getting open looks at the Aggie goalkeeper, but both attempts were saved.
"Overall it wasn't a great game for us," Smith said. "We know we have to play better to get ready for Sunday. We're just glad we can come out with a victory instead of a setback because we didn't have a good performance."
Carolina returns to action Sunday when they compete against UNLV at 11 a.m. The Rebels competed against host Central Florida In the second game of the tournament.
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