Sept. 15, 2011
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By Miquel Jacobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina senior Kayla Grimsley scored the first golden goal of her career to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 come from behind victory against Charlotte Thursday night at Stone Stadium. With the victory, South Carolina improves to 6-2-0 while the loss drops Charlotte to 2-5-2.
Grimsley knocked in her fourth goal overall and third game-winning goal this season just 31 seconds into the first overtime period to give the Gamecocks their second extra minutes win of the season. Senior Lolly Holland scored the equalizer for Carolina at 81:28 after Charlotte took the lead at 77:16 courtesy of Jenna McKeon. Grimsley now sits at 98 points in her career (37 goals and 24 assists), two shy of becoming the second Gamecock to crack the 100-point mark.
"It's a relief," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "We weren't playing our best soccer tonight, so I gave the team a lot of credit to come back from a goal down. To come back and get a win shows a lot of their heart and the confidence these players have. That's what we have to do when we're not having our best night. We had to sort things out and I think we did that well."
Redshirt sophomore Darien Vercillo earned her second straight start in goal and responded with three saves in 91 minutes of action for her second win. The Gamecock backline held Charlotte to four shots on goal in the game, the sixth consecutive game that the defense has held the opponent to four shots on goal or less.
"She's been solid. It's nice to have keepers we can rely on. We look forward to having Sabrina (D'Angelo) back in goal and having two players in there challenging as well as Alex (Holland) and Roya (Mojarab). To have depth at that position just makes us so much better. Darien did a lot to talk and communicate and demand the ball, and she played a solid game."
The Gamecocks controlled possession in the first half, but went into the break with just a slight 5-4 edge in total shots and 3-2 edge in corner kicks. The second half saw Charlotte come out more determined as the 49ers were able to earn three consecutive corner kicks, but the team was not able to get a shot on frame thanks to blocks by Ellen Fahey and Ariane Lukens.
Charlotte's first shot on goal came in the 60th minute with Macky Wingo splitting the center of defense for an opportunity at Vercillo, but the sophomore came out to make the save. It wouldn't be until McKeon curved a ball from over 25 yards out and into the upper corner of the net that the scoreless draw would be broken. The goal was the first given up by South Carolina since allowing a second half goal to Arizona State on August 28. It also ended Carolina's three-match shutout streak and marks the first victory for the Gamecocks that did not come by way of a shutout.
Down 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining, the Gamecocks pushed on the offensive and evened the score four minutes after going down when Kortney Rhoades fed Holland at the top of the '18 for a turnaround shot. Holland nearly made it two less than a minute later when she received a ball at the same spot, but her attempt scuttled inches wide of the net.
With the score tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, South Carolina wasted no time getting the win with Grimsley sending her only shot of the game past the keeper 31 seconds into the overtime period.
South Carolina concludes non-conference action Sunday with a home tilt against No. 13 Wake Forest. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Stone Stadium.
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