Sept. 9, 2011
By Miquel Jacobs
CLEMSON, S.C. - A pair of sophomores supplied the goals to allow the South Carolina senior class to become the first to sweep rival Clemson as the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers, 2-0, Friday night at Historic Riggs Field. For the second consecutive year, South Carolina (4-2-0) ended Clemson's (5-1-0) undefeated streak to start the season with Danielle Au and Gabrielle Gilbert scoring for the Gamecocks.
"It's definitely rewarding anytime you can get a win at Clemson," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "It's difficult to win here, especially when you're on the Carolina side. Our girls battled tonight. You have to give Clemson credit. They came out to play. We had to match that intensity. I'm very happy for our seniors to come out and get the win. In their four years to be able to (get the season sweep) for the first time in history (is incredible)."
The South Carolina senior class is the first Gamecock class to win all four games against their in-state rival and have done so in shutout fashion, outscoring the Tigers 10-0 over the past four seasons with scores of 1-0, 5-0, 2-0 and 2-0. The last senior class to earn the sweep was Clemson's 2003 senior class.
"It just shows where our program has come," Smith said. "Our first win here was two years ago. We've come a long way. The players in this program have done a great job. Credit to them and the hard work they've put in."
Two goalkeepers combined for the shutout with freshman Sabrina D'Angelo getting one save and sophomore Darien Vercillo playing the final 13 minutes of the match after D'Angelo twisted her ankle backtracking on a shot.
The teams combined for only three shots on goal, with South Carolina getting two and Clemson getting one. In efficient form, both Gamecock shots on goal went into the net.
Au's goal at 39:35 ended a mostly uneventful first half of play that saw both team register only one shot on goal. Au took a throw-in from Dani Henry, turned and sent a long bar into the upper corner of the far post from 30 yards. The goal continues a trend for Au, who scored her first career goal against Clemson last season before making it two-for-two Friday night against the Tigers. The assist also marks the first career points for Henry, a redshirt junior who starts on the backline for the Gamecocks.
Gilbert notched her second of the season at 67:31 off a corner kick with the assists by Ali Whitney and Lolly Holland. Holland gathered the corner at the far post, and Gilbert finished to give Carolina the 2-0 lead. The goal continues the strong start for Gilbert as she adjusts to her new position as a winger after spending her freshman season as one of the team's top defenders.
"It feels great, especially since there were so many fans here," Gilbert said of her goal. "Yesterday at practice Shelley and I worked on (corner kicks), and she told me to open my body. Basically that's what I did, and I scored."
After going scoreless at Historic Riggs Field in their first seven appearances at Clemson from 1995 to 2007, the Gamecocks have seemingly turned a new leaf with their recent success under Smith. The Gamecocks have knocked seven goals in at their rival's home pitch the past two meetings, but Friday's match proved to be a difficult test for the Gamecocks.
In a half that saw Clemson lead in shots, 5-3, it was Carolina who had the first look in the 13th minute after an Ali Whitney throw-in found Maria Petroni across the mouth of the goal, but three Tigers were on the line to knock it away without a shot getting off. The first shot on goal went to the Tigers in the 39th minute off a set piece that D'Angelo was able to corral for the save.
Less than a minute later, Au put the Gamecocks on the board, and the Gamecocks nearly made it a quick 2-0 three minutes later when Kayla Grimsley snuck behind the line for a 1v1 with the keeper before booting the shot wide left from the top of the '18. Clemson gave the Gamecocks a scare in the final 10 seconds of the half when a miscommunication led to a free header in the box, but the attempt went wide right.
The second half was again void of many attempts on frame with the Gamecocks getting the only shot on goal in the 45 minute stanza, but that shot proved to be all-important with Gilbert scoring her goal on it in the 68th minute.
South Carolina returns to action Sunday at noon when the team takes on UNC Wilmington to begin the second day of action at the Carolina Cup. The Seahawks dropped a 2-1 decision to Furman in Friday's early match.
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