Grimsley's PK's Keep No. 15 South Carolina Unbeaten In SEC Play|
Oct. 10, 2010
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By Miquel Jacobs
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - South Carolina junior forward Kayla Grimsley capped her strongest career weekend with two decisive first half goals to lead No. 15 South Carolina (11-2-2, 5-0-1 SEC) to a 2-1 victory against Alabama on the road, the first SEC loss for the Crimson Tide (8-3-2, 3-1-2 SEC). South Carolina won at Auburn and at Alabama on the weekend to improve to 6-0-1 on the road this season.
Grimsley scored penalty kicks at 11:09 and 41:33 to notch her eighth and ninth goals of the season. A Hermann Trophy Award candidate, Grimsley finished the weekend with four goals to keep the Gamecocks unbeaten on the road in the 2010 season and alone atop the SEC standings following Auburn's victory against Florida Sunday. South Carolina's offensive output has remained strong the start of SEC play as the Gamecocks have outscored opponents 20-3 in six SEC games.
"It was a huge victory for us," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "Alabama is a much improved team. They're having a great run and it was a battle today. I'm glad we weathered what they threw at us. They had good chances and we did as well. We came out on top and got the goals we needed to get the victory today."
Both penalty kicks came after freshman midfielder Danielle Au was pulled down in the box on separate occasions. Grimsley now leads the conference in goals (9), assists (9) and points (27) halfway through the SEC season.
"Danielle is dangerous," Smith said. "She's a threat. If she's not fouled, she'll get her shots off. The fact that she set those up is like getting two assists for us. The fact that both of them (Grimsley and Au) combine so well, and having Brooke (Jacobs) not out there as long today as we have, players stepped up. The two of them handled our attack and put the pressure on their defensive line. They did a good job the first half to find seams and be a threat."
Grimsley's two goals move her closer to becoming the first Gamecock to join the 10-10 club in a season. Grimsley leads the SEC with 27 points courtesy of nine goals and nine assists. No South Carolina player has scored 10 goals and 10 assists in a season, the closest coming last season when Grimsley scored 13 goals and seven assists, three assists shy of the mark. Before Grimsley, the closest came in 1996 with Debbie Smith (9-7) and Jennie Ondo (14-6) close to the mark.
Alabama's Lindsey Sillers scored at 37:07 for the Crimson Tide's lone goal of the match. Sillers took a wide pass and shot it past goalkeeper Mollie Patton while simultaneously colliding with her, knocking in the goal and tying the match at 1-1 before Grimsley's second PK was awarded four minutes later.
The second half proved to be an even affair despite a few calls that were questioned by the bench. In the 59th minute, Au was called for a yellow card after a collision with an Alabama player that she couldn't see behind her when going for the ball. Less than a minute later, Grimsley was called offsides on a thru ball by Au on an errant whistle as two defenders were between Grimsley and the keeper when the flag went up.
Carolina came close to earning a third goal in the 83rd with Grimsley sending a ball across the field that just missed the sliding leg of Kelsey Barr. Au's follow-up hit the bottom of an Alabama foot and was subsequently saved to end the threat.
Alabama came through with a corner kick with one minute remaining, but the shot by Kaitlin Smith that came with 30 seconds on the clock was saved by Patton as the Gamecocks held on for the 2-1 victory.
South Carolina returns home next weekend with games against SEC East rivals Georgia and Tennessee. The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will play Friday night at 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium. The team will then play Tennessee at 3 p.m. in a game nationally televised by ESPNU.