#11 Gamecocks Improve To 9-0-0 With 2-1 SEC Opening Win
Sept. 25, 2009
Kayla Grimsley extend her consecutive match scoring streak to nine games and also saw junior Mollie Patton's season-opening shutout streak end with 61 seconds remaining in the game.
The victory was the first for the Gamecocks against the Commodores (6-2-1) since a 1-0 win on Sept. 10, 1999, but South Carolina showed early that it was not intimidated by the series advantage Vanderbilt held. Sophomore transfer Kortney Rhoades scored her first goal as a Gamecock at in the 16th minute via assists by Lindsay Small and Grimsley, and Brooke Jacobs hit the game-winner in the 52nd minute to give Carolina it's SEC opening win.
"We worked hard for 90 minutes, played a very good Vanderbilt team and found a way to win the game," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "I'm really proud of our efforts. We scored an early goal, which takes a little pressure off when you get that cushion. I definitely commend the performance. Everyone stepped up. Losing Lindsay Small early in the game who has really been a key (player) for us in the midfield, some young players stepped up and filled her shoes. I'm proud of the whole team effort and excited about the first SEC win."
Vanderbilt's Nicole Luken's scored for Vanderbilt at 88:59 after a defensive miscue to end the shutout streak for Patton at 778:31. Patton entered the match as the sole NCAA leader with seven solo shutouts on the year and came 61 seconds away from tying the South Carolina career shutout mark and setting the single-season shutout mark.
"We came in undefeated and you go into the SEC hoping you'll continue the (winning) streak," Smith said. "I told Mollie she was going to get scored in the SEC. She said, `I know, I know,' but at least it was a good goal. Unfortunately we let a free ball there in the six, and Mollie couldn't stop that one. She's been tremendous. She's come up big. She came out today and won her box. She's playing great. We're excited about her play, and she'll keep getting better."
The Gamecocks stifled the Vanderbilt attack throughout the night, limiting the Commodores to eight shots in the match. Vanderbilt's only shot on goal was the score by Lukens, a header in the box that reached past Patton's hands.
"Our defensive effort is key," Smith said. "We talked before the game is taking care of our first defender. Make sure they do their job and stand them up. Vanderbilt is very good offensively. That was excellence in that last shot on goal. It felt like more than that. They moved the ball well and found areas to get the ball behind us, but the work rate out of our midfield to double-down on the ball and give cover for our backs under pressure was tremendous. That's really what we've harped on all year. The players have responded and done the work."
Rhoades put the Gamecocks on the board at 15:47 after Grimsley and Small played her the ball three yards outside the '18. Her shot ricocheted off a Vanderbilt defender and sailed into the upper right corner of the net in a blast that keeper Rachel Bachtel could not reach.
South Carolina had chances to add to the total in the first half with a header by Grimsley just missing the mark and a free kick by Kim Miller going wide left. It wasn't until the second half when Shannon Bigbie fed the ball to Jacobs up top that the Gamecocks were able to get the second score. Bachtel misplayed Bigbie's ball at the `12, giving Jacobs an easy walk to the net as she jogged the ball in for her second goal of the year.
Natalie Aaron also came close to getting an easy ball in goal when she wrapped up with Bachtel and a Vanderbilt defender at the same spot 20 minutes later. The three tussled for the ball before a foul was called on Aaron to give the Commodores a break.
The Gamecocks were dealt a blow in the first half when senior midfielder Lindsay Small went down with a facial injury in the 19th minute and was not able to return to the match. Small has started every game the past two years as one of the top defensive mids on the team.
South Carolina returns to action Sunday at 1:30 p.m. when the team hosts Kentucky (3-3-3) at Stone Stadium. The Wildcats lost to Florida 2-1 in overtime Friday night.