Sept. 20, 2017
#3 Women's Soccer at Kentucky
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 3 South Carolina women’s soccer (7-1-0, 1-0-0 SEC) continues SEC play this week when it faces Kentucky (5-5-0, 0-1-0 SEC) in a road contest set for Thu., Sept. 21. Kickoff at Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.
The Wildcats saw their three-game winning streak snapped this past Sunday when they fell to Tennessee 3-0 in their SEC opener. Kentucky enters Thursday’s contest with a mark of 4-1-0 at home, and the match against the Gamecocks will mark its second game against a ranked opponent in 2017. The Wildcats fell to then-No. 8 Florida State 4-0 earlier this month on Sept. 3.
Freshman midfielder Eva Mitchell leads the Kentucky offense with eight points on three goals and two assists, while senior forward Tanya Samarzich ranks second on the team in points (7). Wildcat sophomore Evangeline Soucie has appeared in all 10 matches in net, where she sports a 1.25 goals against average. Coach Ian Carry is in his first year as head coach of Kentucky after serving as an assistant coach for the team over the previous four seasons.
South Carolina has won two of its last three matches against the Wildcats, including a 3-0 victory at Stone Stadium last season. Kentucky sports a mark of 13-8-1 all-time against the Gamecocks, and Carolina’s last road win in the series came in 2010.
LAST TIME OUT
A penalty-kick goal from senior midfielder Lindsey Lane in the 76th minute pushed South Carolina past Alabama 1-0 in the team’s SEC opener last Friday (Sept. 15) at Stone Stadium.
Gamecock striker Savannah McCaskill set up the penalty kick chance for Carolina after tracking down a long pass from sophomore Lauren Pinkham. McCaskill collected the ball at the top of the attacking third and raced forward before being taken down in the right side of the box. Lane easily converted the spot, rifling the ball into the heart of the net as Alabama goalkeeper Kat Stratton dove towards the right post.
Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski recorded three saves en route to her seventh win of the season. The Gamecocks limited the Crimson Tide to just one attempt on frame over the final 45 minutes and outshot them 8-4 during the second period. With the win, Carolina moved to 14-4-1 all-time against Alabama.
WE’RE NUMBER ONE
Carolina claimed the top spot in the first RPI ranking of 2017, the NCAA announced Monday. The No. 1 ranking marks the highest in program history for the Gamecocks. South Carolina spent eight weeks ranked inside the RPI top-five last season, earning a top-three listing four times throughout the stretch.
Stanford (No. 2), Texas (No. 3), UCF (No. 4) and North Carolina (No. 5) rounded out the top-five in Monday’s ranking. The Gamecocks moved past the Knights 2-0 in its season opener back on Aug. 18 behind goals from sophomore Elexa Bahr and freshman Lauren Chang.
South Carolina remained at No. 3 in Tuesday’s United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Gamecocks, who have spent three weeks inside the top-five this season, have been positioned in the top-15 in each of the last 17 installments of the poll dating back to last year. South Carolina has earned a top-10 ranking 14 times over that stretch. The Gamecocks entered the fall with the program’s highest preseason spot after being listed at No. 4 in August.
SMITH NOTCHES 250th CAREER WIN
South Carolina’s 1-0 win over Alabama last Friday marked the 250th career victory for head coach Shelley Smith. Smith, who notched her 200th victory at South Carolina last fall in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, became coach of the Gamecocks in 2001 after amassing 41 wins during her four years at Rhode Island. The 2016 SEC Coach of the Year has led Carolina to 12 double-digit win seasons during her time in Columbia.
STREAKING IN THE SEC
The Gamecocks have won each of their last 13 matches in SEC regular-season play in a streak that dates back to 2015. South Carolina closed its 2015 conference slate with a 4-0 victory over Tennessee before posting a perfect 11-0-0 mark in league play last fall en route to the 2016 SEC Regular-Season Title. The Gamecocks notched a shutout in 10 of the 13 wins.
South Carolina’s defensive unit has rounded into form as of late, as the team has notched clean sheets in four of its last five matches. The Gamecocks have allowed just one goal over that stretch, and their 0.62 goals against average for the season ranks fifth in the SEC. Carolina, which has conceded more than one goal just once in 2017, boasts five shutouts on the year.
The Gamecocks sport a 19-game winning streak in matches played in September in a stretch that dates back to 2015. Ten of those victories have been by two or more goals.
MCCASKILL HITS THE CENTURY MARK
With her assist against Clemson on Sept. 8, Carolina forward Savannah McCaskill reached 100 points for her career. The Chapin, S.C., native became the third player in school history to hit the century mark, joining Kayla Grimsley (2008-11) and Jennie Ondo (1996-99). McCaskill has led Carolina in points in each of her first three seasons, and her 45 points as a junior in 2016 marked a single-year school record.
The Gamecocks return to action this weekend when they play host to No. 21 Tennessee on Sun., Sept. 24. Sunday’s top-25 battle at Stone Stadium, which kicks off at 2 p.m. ET, can be seen on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.
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