Sept. 29, 2017
No. 3 Women's Soccer vs. No. 18 Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. -- Paced by goals from attackers Elexa Bahr and Ryan Gareis, No. 3 South Carolina women's soccer topped No. 18 Ole Miss 2-0 in Friday night's top-25 battle at Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. The Gamecocks (10-1-0, 4-0-0 SEC) extended their winning streak to eight matches and remained atop the SEC standings with the victory over the Rebels (9-2-1, 2-2-0 SEC).
Bahr's goal in the 10th minute was set up by senior Savannah McCaskill, who charged towards the box after gathering the ball near the top of the attacking third. The striker drew the attention of a pair of Rebel defenders and alertly slipped a well-placed pass to Bahr near the right side of the box. Bahr took one dribble before slotting it home with a right-footed hit that beat Ole Miss goalkeeper Marnie Merritt.
Gareis stretched the Carolina lead to 2-0 in the 60th minute and put the Gamecocks in complete control following a beautiful strike from 18 yards out. The first-year forward found the back of the net on a well-hit attempt from the top left corner of the box, firing a perfectly-placed shot that beat Merritt. The goal marked the second tally of the season for the Naperville, Ill., native.
One minute later, Gareis nearly registered an identical goal after hitting the crossbar from the right side of the box. The Gamecocks continued to press for more, and a cross from midfielder Breukelen Woodard almost set up a goal for fellow freshman Bianca Galassini in the 76th minute. Galassini used her head to send a well-hit shot that missed wide right.
The Gamecocks outshot the Rebels 11-3 in the first half and saw a pair of quality chances to extend the lead following Bahr's goal. In the 13th minute, McCaskill freed herself from an Ole Miss defender and sent in a ball that eventually fell to Gareis. The freshman attacker's one-timer from the top of the box called for a crucial block from the Rebel back line, and a second attempt from Gareis was again denied by an Ole Miss defender.
McCaskill nearly found the back of the net in the 21st minute when she gathered a pass and found herself in a one-on-one situation at the top of the box. Merritt stifled the scoring chance after racing off her line to strip the ball from McCaskill's feet and clear the danger.
Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski registered three first-half saves, the biggest one coming in the 26th minute after the Rebels sent in a dangerous cross on the counterattack. The pass found Julia Phillips near the far post, and the Ole Miss midfielder's one-time attempt was stopped when Krzeczowski threw her body in front of the shot.
The Gamecock defense, which has yet to concede a goal in SEC play this season, shined and held Ole Miss to just three shots on frame for the night. The Rebels, whose best chance of the second half came on a blocked shot in the box in the 55th minute, didn't put an attempt on target over the final 45 minutes. South Carolina sported a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks and put five shots on goal in the match.
With the win, the Gamecocks improved to 11-5-3 all-time against the Rebels. South Carolina has won eight of its last 11 matches against Ole Miss.
""Tonight was an excellent win on the road against a quality opponent. I'm very proud of how this team handled the environment. We did a good job to jump on them early, and I thought we did well in the second half to keep the momentum." -- South Carolina women's soccer coach Shelley Smith
Freshman forward Ryan Gareis put the Gamecocks in control in Friday's match after her strike from the top of the box found the back of the net. The goal was one of five shots on target for Carolina in the match.
South Carolina's defense improved as the match progressed, and the Rebels failed to put a shot on target in the second half. Ole Miss entered Friday's contest as the top scoring team in the SEC with 43 goals on the season.
South Carolina returns to action next week when it plays host to Mississippi State on Thu., Oct. 5. The match, which can be seen on SEC Network+, gets underway at Stone Stadium at 7 p.m. ET.
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