Sept. 15, 2012
GAMECOCK SPOTLIGHT - LIZ SINCLAIR
September 15, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina welcomes nationally-ranked Missouri Sunday for a match at Stone Stadium that will broadcast live on ESPNU at 2 p.m.
Sunday's meeting marks the first game between the South Carolina and No. 21/17 Missouri. The "Battle of the Columbia's" marks the start of a new rivalry with Mizzou joining the SEC's eastern division this season after spending its entire history in the Big 12 from 1996 to 2011. Missouri is coming off a 2-0 victory at Auburn in their SEC opener while the Gamecocks drew unbeaten Mississippi State, 0-0, Friday night at Stone Stadium.
Fans can park in the Athletics Village Parking Garage adjacent to Stone Stadium on Heyward Street. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are currently on sale. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $10 for youth. They can be purchased at GamecocksOnline.com or by calling (800) 4SC-FANS.
ON THE HORIZON
South Carolina hits the road for the first time in a month with a trip west to take on No. 10 Texas A&M and Arkansas. The match against the Aggies will be the first SEC conference game at Ellis Field for new addition Texas A&M.
Missouri enters Sunday's with a 6-1-0 record and a No. 21 NSCAA national ranking after rolling through a non-conference season that included victories over No. 11 Memphis (5-1) and No. 15 California (3-2). The Tigers suffered their first loss last Thursday at Ohio State before rebounding to knock off Auburn, 2-0, in Mizzou's SEC debut Friday night. The Tigers are led by senior Taiwo Adeshigbin's four goals and nine points along with senior Haley Kretnz's league-high five assists and nine points. Sophomore McKenzie Sauerwin sports a 0.71 goals against average with three shutouts on the year.
Defense has been the calling card for Shelley Smith's Gamecocks, and the 2012 season shows early signs of continuing that character trait despite the lack of depth at the position due to various injuries. South Carolina has posted five shutouts in its seven games this season, and the team sports a 0.39 goals against average after allowing only three goals so far this season.
The Gamecock defense entered the weekend ranked No. 22 in the NCAA in goals against average and No. 16 in the NCAA with a 0.667 shutout percentage.
Four of South Carolina's seven matches so far this season have gone to overtime, and the Gamecocks are 0-2-2 in those fixtures. Both of Carolina's losses this season have come in extra time (Minnesota 2-1, Clemson 1-0) with Shelley Smith's team able to stay ahead or on even ground at the end of regulation in every match this season. However, after keeping the opponent at bay through 90 minutes in each match, the Gamecocks have yet to notch a golden goal, something that was not a problem in 2011 when South Carolina went 3-1-0 in overtime matches.
MORE ON THE BACKLINE
South Carolina ranks second in the SEC in allowing only 61 shots and 24 shots on goal through seven matches, stats that undoubtedly were helped after holding East Carolina to only two shots and no shots on goal in Sunday's non-conference finale. The two shots allowed against ECU were the fewest by a team since the Gamecocks held Ole Miss to only one shot in a 3-0 victory on October 1, 2010. That match was also the last time the Gamecocks held an opponent without a single shot on frame.
Shelley Smith is dealing with a squad decimated by injuries for the first time since the 2006 team was forced to deal with mass knocks. The 2012 Gamecocks have already lost two players for the season (Emily Bollinger, Bay Daniel) and have had 10 other players - including five of the six returning starters - miss time or leave games this season due to injury. Only 11 dedicated field players have been without injury - five mids, four forwards and two defenders.
HOME AT THE STONE
South Carolina has been nearly unstoppable at Stone Stadium the past five seasons, posting a 49-10-7 record at home since 2006. The streak included a 15-game unbeaten streak from Aug. 31, 2006-Oct. 5, 2007 and a 13-game unbeaten streak at "The Graveyard" from Oct. 19, 2007-Oct. 23, 2008. The lone blemishes on the record are a double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt (Oct. 7, 2007), a loss to #7 Florida (Oct. 30, 2008), two thrillers against #14/13 Wake Forest (2009 and 2011) and losses to Louisville, Kentucky, #23 Minnesota, #20 Georgia, #8 Florida and Clemson.
YOUTH IN REVOLT
South Carolina lost 70 percent of its scoring from last season, and the natural question coming into 2012 was where would the goals come from. If the non-conference season was any indication, the freshman class has no problem taking up that challenge with the quartet of Coryn Bajema, Courtney Angotti-Smith, Stevi Parker and Raina Johnson tallying seven of South Carolina's nine goals thus far. The other two scores have come from a sophomore (Lani Smith) and a redshirt junior (Rae Wilson).
GAMECOCKS ON TV
South Carolina will appear on a TV a minimum of four times in 2012 with at least one of those games occurring on national TV, marking the sixth consecutive season that Carolina will play in front of a national audience. Carolina's home matches against Missouri (Sept. 16) and Florida (Oct. 25) will air live on ESPNU and SUN Sports, respectively, and away matches at Vanderbilt (Sept. 30) and Kentucky (Oct. 19) will air on CSS and SportSouth.
The Gamecocks were a perfect 3-0-0 last season in televised games, outscoring opponents 8-2 in those contests.