Oct. 4, 2009
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Not even a muddy field and downpour of rain in a road contest could derail the Gamecocks as the No. 8 South Carolina women's soccer team held on for a 1-1 draw against Mississippi State in Starkville Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks remain unbeaten on the season and move to 11-0-1 (3-0-1 SEC); the Bulldogs improve to 8-2-2 (0-2-2).
Junior Brooke Jacobs put the Gamecocks ahead in the 46th minute of the match before Mississippi State was able to tie it in the 71st off a set piece. The match is the first overtime game of the season for South Carolina, and it marks just the third goal allowed by the team this season.
After constant rain in the Starkville area the past two weeks, the game was the third played on the field in six days, creating a muddy playing area that gradually filled with puddles throughout the match. Despite not playing in those conditions previously, the Gamecocks held a 16-14 shot advantage and collected a 2-0 edge in corner kicks.
"It was a good result given the circumstances," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "Obviously the field conditions worsened throughout the game which didn't play into our strengths as a team. Especially in the second half and into overtime, the field got to a point where you couldn't play (a regular game of soccer). We were happy coming away without a loss. The effort the team put forth on the field was very good. They really battled for each other. It's a victory to come out without any injuries. Hopefully we won't face these conditions again this season, but if we do we'll have this experience to draw upon."
The Gamecocks started the game strong with Kim Miller getting a shot just 30 seconds into the match that sailed high. For the majority of the half, the ball stayed in the Carolina attacking third with the Gamecocks getting two potential scoring runs called offsides. Carolina came close to scoring the first goal of the game in the 28th when an Ellen Fahey free kick just missed the head of Kayla Grimsley in front of the net.
The Bulldogs had a scare in the 31st when goalkeeper Taryn Holland collided with Natalie Aaron, causing a delay in action while the trainers tended to Holland. Three minutes later, the Gamecocks almost caught a break when Mississippi State was whistled for a caution just outside the '18 for pulling Grimsley's jersey. However, Carolina couldn't get a look on goal with the free kick to end the threat.
As the rain began to fall harder and the field filled with puddles of mud, ball movement got tougher, and the teams headed into the half with a scoreless tie despite a South Carolina 6-1 shot advantage. It wasn't until 50 seconds in the second half that the Gamecocks cracked the scoreboard with Jacobs's goal courtesy of an assist from Grimsley.
In the following 15 minutes, the Bulldogs began to put the pressure onto goalkeeper Mollie Patton, but the redshirt junior held her ground with a couple of saves to keep the 1-0 lead. South Carolina had to close chances to add an insurance goal, the first when Grimsley stole the ball in the attacking third and tried to slot it through to Maria Petroni before the ball stopped in a puddle outside the '18. The second chance came in the 67th when Lolly Holland broke a defender and headed towards the net before a tackle ended the threat.
The Bulldogs scored the equalizer at 70:51 after a South Carolina foul 25 yards out led to a free kick for Rachel Wannek. The forward was able to push it into the upper corner of the net for the goal. South Carolina had two strong chances in the closing minutes of regulation to earn a second goal - one a shot by Samantha Diaz-Matosas from eight yards that was saved and the other a double opportunity by Blakely Mattern and Aaron off the first corner kick of the game - but neither converted and the game went into overtime.
In the two extra periods, neither team was able to get much of an opportunity as the ball continued to roll slowly in the mud. Mississippi State got off four shots in the extra 20 minutes and South Carolina got off three before the teams settled for the draw.
South Carolina returns home next weekend to take on Auburn and Alabama at Stone Stadium. Friday night's match will be Senior Day for the Gamecocks and will kick off at 7 p.m.
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