No. 10 Gamecocks Shutout Arkansas 2-0 To Claim SEC Lead
Oct. 22, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Kayla Grimsley became the fifth player in South Carolina history to record a 10-goal season and classmate Kortney Rhoades scored the game-winner to lead the No. 10 Gamecocks to a 2-0 shutout of Arkansas Thursday night at Stone Stadium. With the win, South Carolina improves to 15-1-1 (7-1-1 SEC) and takes sole possession of first place in the SEC with two games remaining in the season.
Grimsley joined the ranks of former Gamecocks Jennie Ondo, Angela Austin, Debbie Smith and Darcel Mollon as players to reach the 10-goal milestone at South Carolina. Playing in just her 39th career game, Grimsley jumped to seventh on the South Carolina scoring list with 47 career points. She currently leads the SEC with 10 goals and 25 points.
"Incredible is the only way to describe it, and maybe even surreal," Grimsley said of the note. "But like I've said all season, I don't look at this. It's nice to see different records that may be set, but our team is setting records itself. I think that's a bigger deal than just one player. It takes a team to win games and our team is setting records, so that's the most incredible thing."
"She's been phenomenal for us just giving us leads like she has," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said of Grimsley. "We've defended well and kept teams from getting up on us, which gives her time to find the net. That's what she's done for us all year, and she's creating for others as well. She's so good on the ball and draws a lot of attention and finishes her chances."
In the final home game of the 2009 season, the sophomore duo of "KR-KG" led the Gamecocks to the win for program bests of 15 overall and seven SEC wins. Rhoades notched her second goal of the season at 62:39 courtesy of assists from Grimsley and Kim Miller before Grimsley hit hers at 62:39 off another assist by Miller. The assists give Miller an SEC-leading 10 for the year, and she moves to second all-time at South Carolina with 16 in her career.
Junior goalkeeper Mollie Patton earned her 12th shutout of the season. She continues to hold the national lead for solo shutouts in a strong second year starting for the Gamecocks.
The teams played an almost even first half with both squads earning seven shots. The Gamecocks had a few opportunities to claim the lead with balls played into the box, but Arkansas keeper Britni Williams was able to corral the services to take the game to the half in a scoreless tie.
The second half was a different story with South Carolina increasing the pressure on the Arkansas defense. In the 48th, Grimsley sent a thru ball to Samantha Diaz-Matosas that would have been a 1v1 opportunity, but the player was called offsides to end the threat. Grimsley then came close to notching a goal in the 54th with a header from a Brittiny Rhoades service, but Williams made the save in front of the net.
Nine minutes later in the 63rd minute, Carolina was able to put it all together when Miller sent a clean pass to Grimsley on the right flank, who then turned it to a streaking Kortney Rhoades for an open shot on Williams that went in for a 1-0 Gamecock lead. It was Rhoades's first goal since hitting the first goal in Carolina's win against Vanderbilt.
Just eight minutes later, Miller again connected with Grimsley, but this time the sophomore forward raced to the net from 30 yards out to beat the keeper and give South Carolina the 2-0 lead.
The Gamecocks almost earned a third goal on a night with high scores throughout the Southeastern Conference after Kira Campbell was fouled just outside the '18 by an Arkansas defender that grabbed her to prevent a shot from going off. The ensuing free kick went high, and the teams traded shots throughout the remainder of the game.
"We came out a littler flatter than I thought we would the first half, but we responded well the second half," Smith said. "We got the goals and really increased the intensity, so I'm proud of the effort."
South Carolina finishes the 2009 season with a perfect 8-0-0 record at home, the first time the team finished a season with no losses and no ties at "The Graveyard." The 2006 team was the only other squad to finish the season with an unbeaten record at home after going 8-0-3.
Three Gamecocks set the school record for games played in a career. Miller, Diaz-Matosas and Blakely Mattern each played in their 84th game at South Carolina to set the mark.
South Carolina travels to Baton Rouge Sunday for a nationally televised match with No. 17 LSU (10-4-3, 6-2-1 SEC). The game will kickoff at 3 p.m. on ESPNU. If South Carolina wins and Florida loses Sunday, the Gamecocks will clinch their first ever SEC Eastern Division title. The team will also grab the outright SEC title with victories against LSU and Florida.