Gamecocks Shutout Georgia, 1-0, For First SEC Win of 2012
Oct. 7, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina junior Gabrielle Gilbert scored her second goal of the season to lead the Gamecocks (4-6-4, 1-4-3 SEC) to their first SEC victory of the season in a 1-0 win against Georgia (6-7-2, 2-4-2 SEC) Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium.
The victory was the first against the Bulldogs at Stone Stadium since the 2006 season, which was also the last Gamecock regular season victory over the Bulldogs.
Gilbert scored in the 21st minute with assists from Dani Henry and Danielle Au, marking her second goal in as many Sunday's after also scoring last Sunday in a 1-1 draw at Vanderbilt. Sophomore Sabrina D'Angelo registered five saves to record her second shutout of the season.
"I'm thrilled," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said of the game. "We've been working hard and getting closer but not quite finishing games. Today is a great feeling to get back on the winning track."
"It was a great feeling," Gilbert said. "We've been working so hard for us. It's a weight off of our shoulder, and this was a huge step for us. We're going to keep working forward to keep getting those wins because this isn't the end."
Shelley Smith used a new attacking lineup Sunday with Rae Wilson, Raina Johnson and Ali Whitney earning starts as the forwards and Abby Sams taking the attacking midfield role. The move saw immediate positive dividends, much like the decision to change the formation last weekend led to three goals in two matches, as the fresh faces put early and constant pressure on the Bulldog defense. Johnson made her mark by frustrating the defenders with her all-over-the-ball style of play while Whitney used her strength to put the ball into play from the flank and on throw-ins. Wilson nearly broke the game open in the 13th minute with a header off a D'Angelo free kick that was barely saved by Georgia's Ashley Baker.
As the lineup began to slowly resemble its previous starting look, the Gamecocks continued to press until Gilbert notched her goal at 20:46. Dani Henry sent a ball into the box that Dnaielle Au put towards the net, but Baker came up with the save. Gilbert, who was making a run down the right wing, continued to run through the play and was rewarded with the rebound into the net.
"Any goal is huge," Smith said. "Gabby has come up with some big ones for us. Her effort all year has been tremendous. We've put her in several positions on the field and she's made a difference in all of them. Obviously scoring goals is huge. Huge credit to Gabby and what she's brought to the field."
The Bulldogs came close to equalizing in the 38th minute when Susannah Dennis knocked a ball into the goal, but the play was nullified due to an offsides call and the Gamecocks went into the break with a 1-0 halftime lead.
South Carolina began the second half just as strong as the first, but it was Georgia that had the first dangerous strike when Carli Shultis rifled a shot from range in the 60th that D'Angelo tip-saved into the crossbar to keep the Bulldogs off the board. Gilbert made a bid for her second goal in the 65th with a header from an Andie Romness free kick that Baker was able to save.
The teams played an even half the rest of the way with both teams getting threatening looks at various stages of the game in a second half that saw 11 combined shots.
"It's always stressful until the end," Smith said. "The game is never over until the horn blows. I felt good about our team and where we were. We were battling, and I knew we could win the game. It was a matter of us making sure we did our jobs. It was a relief to get that first conference win."
South Carolina remains home next weekend when LSU and Ole Miss visit Stone Stadium to end a four-match homestand.