Women's Soccer Travels West For SEC Road Weekend
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina hits the road for the first time in a month to take on SEC West foes Texas A&M and Arkansas this weekend. The mach in College Station Friday night will mark the SEC home debut for No. 10 Texas A&M, and will be the second consecutive top-20 opponent for the Gamecocks.
Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Aggies is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET) Friday night at Ellis Field. South Carolina then travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the Razorbacks at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday afternoon.
ON THE HORIZON
South Carolina stays on the road with visits to Auburn and Vanderbilt next week. The Sunday match in Nashville will air live on CSS at 2 p.m. (ET).
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M brings a No. 10 national ranking, seven-match winning streak and a program-record five-game shutout streak into their Friday night SEC home debut at Ellis Field. The Aggies went 2-0-0 in their first SEC weekend with victories at LSU (1-0) and Ole Miss (4-0). G Guerrieri's squad is led by a pair of sophomores in Annie Kunz (6 goals, 12 points) and Kelley Monogue (4 goals, 8 points). Classmate Meghan Streight has tallied five assists on the season as well. Another sophomore, Jordan Day, is having another fine season in goal with a stellar 0.33 goals against average to go with six shutouts and a .903 save percentage.
Arkansas enters the weekend with a 3-5-0 record under new first-year head coach Colby Hale. The Razorbacks have a victory over Texas and close showing against No. 1 Florida State (1-0 loss) under their belts and are led in scoring by freshman Ashleigh Ellenwood. Sophomore Kelly Roliard has played every minute in goal and carries a 1.62 goals against average to go along with 30 saves and two shutouts.
Defense has been the calling card for Shelley Smith's Gamecocks, and the 2012 squad has proven to be one that will continue that character trait despite the lack of depth at the position due to various injuries. South Carolina has posted five shutouts in its eight games this season, and the team sports a 0.46 goals against average after allowing only three goals so far this season. The Gamecock defense ranks 12th in the NCAA in goals against average, No. 13 in shutout percentage (0.625) and 21st in save percentage (.882).
Four of South Carolina's eight 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 78 shots and 34 shots on goal through eight 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 11 other players - including five of the six returning starters - miss time or leave games this season due to injury. Only 10 dedicated field players have been without injury - four mids, four forwards and two defenders.
CAROLINA VS THE SEC WEST
South Carolina historically has enjoyed greater success against SEC West foes than SEC East foes by the surprising note that the Gamecocks hold the series advantage against all six SEC West schools (not including newly added Texas A&M) but does not have the advantage against any of the SEC East schools. The Gamecocks are 50-21-14 (.671) all-time vs the West with series' against Alabama (10-4-0), Arkansas (9-3-1), Auburn (7-5-3), LSU (8-2-5), Ole Miss (8-3-2) and Mississippi State (7-4-3). In contrast, South Carolina is 21-67-10 (.265) vs SEC East schools.