Brittiny Rhoades Puts No. 18 Gamecocks Into SEC Title Game
Oct. 24, 2010
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By Miquel Jacobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Senior defender Brittiny Rhoades scored her first career goal in the 80th minute to propel No. 18 South Carolina to a 1-0 win against LSU Sunday and ensure that Friday's home finale against Florida will serve as the SEC regular season title match. The Gamecocks (14-3-2, 8-1-1 SEC) and Gators have the same conference record heading into their televised game this coming Friday at 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium.
Rhoades launched a ball into the net from the left flank at 79:52 to cap a game where the Preseason All-SEC defender also captained her backline to its 11th consecutive match in holding the opposition to a record four shots on goal or less, a streak that includes all SEC opponents in addition to a road victory at then-No. 22 Wake Forest. The stellar defensive effort also pushed senior goalkeeper Mollie Patton to her 31st career shutout, leaving her just two shy of tying the all-time SEC record. The shutout was the 50th shutout at Stone Stadium under head coach Shelley Smith.
South Carolina improves to a perfect 4-0-0 on television this season with the win. Playing on ESPNU for the second consecutive Sunday, Carolina has now defeated Ole Miss (3-0, Fox Soccer Channel), Mississippi State (7-0, CSS), Tennessee (2-1, ESPNU) and LSU (1-0, ESPNU).
Armed with a 6-2 shot advantage at the half, the Gamecocks allowed LSU to shoot six straight in the second half before Carolina was able to get another attempt off. However, the first shot of the second half was the only one that would matter in the game with Rhoades taking a ball from freshman Gabrielle Gilbert and beating a defender before firing off her game winner.
"I'm really happy that we found a way to win," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "I don't think it was our best game. We weren't finding each other and we weren't patient with our offense. Defensively we did well to limit their opportunities and give us a chance to find a goal. The off effort wasn't as strong as we would like it, but it was a matter of gelling up top. The fact that Brittiny Rhoades stepped up as a senior leader and captain to come through with the first goal of her career, I couldn't' be happier for her. That's the way teams are going to win, by finding a way and people stepping up at the right times."
One game after finishing off an unbeaten road record on the season, Carolina also finished off another record by going unbeaten in all of its Sunday matches this year with a 9-0-1 record on Sunday matches. The Gamecocks have outscored opponents 25-4 on Sunday's this year.
South Carolina plays No. 12 Florida Friday night at 7 p.m. in a game that will decide the 2010 SEC Regular Season Champion. The match will be televised live on SUN Sports and will serve as Senior Day for five South Carolina seniors playing their final home games at Stone Stadium.