Sept. 11, 2011
By Miquel Jacobs
CLEMSON, S.C. - South Carolina senior Kayla Grimsley tied the program career record for assists as the Gamecocks shutout UNC Wilmington 2-0 Sunday afternoon at Historic Riggs Field. South Carolina improves to 5-2-0 on the year and wins the Carolina Cup tournament for the fifth consecutive season, and the Seahawks fall to 2-4-0 with the loss.
Maria Petroni notched her second goal of the season at 12:27 with a tap-in after Danielle Au and Lolly Holland combined to feed her a ball across the mouth of the goal. It was a team-leading third assist on the year for Au, tying the total amount that she had all of last season in just seven games.
Kortney Rhoades added the insurance goal at 57:48 via Grimsley for her record-tying assist. Grimsley, who entered 2011 needing that one assist, finally earned her 24th career assist Sunday, and it went to her best friend Rhoades. Grimsley ties Mindy Sanders (1996-99) for the career record that has held for 12 years.
"It's really a humbling and an incredible feeling," Grimsley said of tying the record. "I've always said that this is a team sport, and our team has proven that throughout the years since I've been here. That just proved it again today. I did a lot of work to get those assists, but so did everyone else. Kortney Rhoades busted herself today to get to that spot to put in a great goal. I'm really excited about it."
Redshirt sophomore Darien Vercillo earned her first career start in goal and responded with two saves in the shutout. All five of South Carolina's victories this season have been shutouts. Vercillo and freshman Sabrina D'Angelo combined to play in goal in Carolina's first six games, but D'Angelo missed Sunday's contest after suffering a minor injury in Friday's rivalry match against Clemson.
Four Gamecocks made the All-Tournament Team: Grimsley, Au, Petroni and Dani Henry. Henry was named Tournament MVP for her great weekend on the backline that led to consecutive shutouts.
The Gamecocks entered Sunday's match with just 43 shots in six games and hit double-digits only once, but they came out with a fury in Sunday's clash, resulting in 26 total shots (13 shots on goal) to UNC Wilmington's 10 shots. South Carolina also held a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Rhoades put out the first shot of the game in the second minute, and Au nearly put the first one in goal in the eighth with an open look in the eighth minute that sailed high of the net. Carolina wouldn't have to wait much longer for a goal after Holland and Au connected with Petroni for the score in the 13th.
South Carolina continued with the attack as Christa Neary's header off a corner kick in the 15th minute required a diving save by Seahawks goalkeeper Caitlin Hunter. UNC Wilmington then began to string together a possession of its own and tested Vercillo for the first time in the 19th minute with a shot in the penalty area that the sophomore handled for the save.
The Gamecocks ended the first half with a 9-3 edge in shots and 4-0 advantage in corner kicks. The second half would be a great discrepancy with South Carolina leading the second stanza in shots with a 17-3 advantage and a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Holland put the pressure on early to begin the second half with a shot five minutes into the stanza that clanged off the inside of the left post. The senior continued to put the Seahawks backline on notice with her runs, getting called offside minutes later to negate a 1v1 opportunity. Kortney Rhoades and Au both added shots that were saved in the following minutes, and Kayla Grimsley's feed to Petroni in the 57th was narrowly saved by the keeper.
Less than a minute later, Grimsley connected with Rhoades for the second score. Petroni then attempted to add her second of the day with a shot in the 60th that crept past the keeper before being toed away by the last defender, and a shot in the 63rd that required another save.
The Seahawks had their best opportunity for a goal in the 73rd with a scramble in front of the Carolina goal, but Ellen Fahey blocked the attempt from less than five yards and Vercillo corralled the ball to end the threat.
South Carolina concludes non-conference action next week with home games against Charlotte and Wake Forest. The Gamecocks and 49'ers will kickoff on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium.
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