Sept. 14, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina and Mississippi State played to a scoreless draw in the SEC opener for both teams Friday night at Stone Stadium. The match was the fourth overtime - and third double-overtime - game of the season for the Gamecocks (3-2-2, 0-0-1 SEC) while Mississippi State remains unbeaten on the year at 7-0-1 (0-0-1 SEC).
Freshman Sabrina D'Angelo and senior Darien Vercillo combined in goal for the shutout for South Carolina, the fifth in seven matches this season. D'Angelo started and played the first 64 minutes before giving way to Vercillo for the final 46 minutes of action. Both keepers earned three saves.
"It was a battle tonight and give a lot of credit to Mississippi State," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "We matched the intensity, but didn't execute some things. That part and to not get a good result was disappointing. It's a game of inches and we couldn't quite get the ball in the net tonight. It was a good effort, but the execution has to be better. We played with heart, but we have to continue to improve our game.
The matchup between the two teams was rather tame until the final 20 minutes of regulation when both teams began pressing for a score. Mississippi State's Elisabeth Sullivan supplied the first great opportunity of the night with a shot in the 76th minute that was cleared near the line, and South Carolina's Courtney Angotti-Smith came back the other way in the 78th minute with a shot from six yards that Skylar Rosson was able to dive and save for the Bulldogs.
Danielle Au nearly pulled off the late heroics in the 88th after claiming possession at midfield and racing down to the 12-yard line for an attempt, but Rosson again was able to make the save en route to collecting her sixth consecutive shutout.
Wanting to save themselves from playing yet another 110-minute match, the Gamecocks came close to the golden goal in the 94th, but Taylor Leach's chip into the box narrowly missed Angotti-Smith's head in front of the net. The Bulldogs were able to claim a 2-0 shot advantage in the first overtime but found themselves out-hustled by the Gamecocks in the second overtime period.
Andie Romness was called into action early and often in the final 10 minutes with South Carolina winning numerous free kicks and three corner kicks in the second overtime, and the sophomore's set piece in the 101st required a tip-save by Rosson into the crossbar and out for a corner. Christa Neary's free kick in the 104th was bobbled by Rosson and dribbled in front of the net, but Angotti-Smith's follow-up went wide of the frame.
Both teams had a final attempt in the closing minutes with Au's shot off a corner kick sailing over the crossbar and Honeye Heydari's free kick in the final 30 seconds saved by Vercillo to preserve the shutout.
"Sabrina unfortunately has been hampered by an injury that hurt her and we had to take her out," Smith said. "She'll be fine. Darien did a great job to come in and complete the shutout. Credit to Darien to come in and quickly takeover and do a good job."
South Carolina returns to action Sunday afternoon when the No. 21 Missouri Tigers make their first trip to Stone Stadium. Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Tigers is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
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