Sept. 23, 2017
#3 Women's Soccer vs. #21 Tennessee
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 3 South Carolina women's soccer (8-1-0, 2-0-0 SEC) plays host to No. 21 Tennessee (9-0-1, 1-0-1 SEC) this weekend in a top-25 battle set for Sun., Sept. 24. Kickoff from Stone Stadium is slated for 2 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.
South Carolina soccer matches are included in the Athletics Department's clear bag policy for all ticketed athletics events in a move designed to provide a safer environment and more expedited entry for fans. The policy will limit the size and type of bags that may be brought into South Carolina Athletics events. Information on the Clear Bag Policy and other Game Day Policies can be found online.
FROM THE COACH
"We are looking forward to being back at home and hosting Tennessee. They did a great job in their non-conference slate, and they have had a strong start to SEC play as well. It should be a tremendous conference match-up, as both teams enter Sunday nationally ranked. It will be a very exciting environment, and we hope to capitalize on the home field advantage." -- South Carolina women's soccer coach Shelley Smith
The Volunteers, who boast an overall mark of 9-0-1, enter this weekend as the only SEC team unbeaten on the season. Tennessee opened its 2017 campaign with a program-record nine-straight wins before earning a 1-1 draw at home against Auburn this past Thursday (Sept. 21). The Volunteers have won each of their five road contests on the year, and Sunday will mark their first game against a ranked opponent this season.
Junior midfielder Khadija Shaw leads Tennessee and ranks third in the SEC with eight goals, while freshman forward McKinley Burkett is second on the team in goals (3) and points (9). The Volunteers, who lead the conference in goals against average (0.29) and shutouts (7), have outscored their opponents 23-3 on the year. Junior goalkeeper Shae Yanez boasts the league's third-best save percentage (.900) for a Tennessee squad that allows just over nine shots per match.
South Carolina has won eight of its last nine games against the Volunteers in a stretch that dates back to 2007. The Gamecocks are 3-4-2 in home matches against Tennessee, which sports an all-time mark of 12-8-2 in the series. South Carolina's 2-0 road victory over the Volunteers last October secured the team its 2016 SEC Regular-Season Championship.
LAST TIME OUT
South Carolina topped Kentucky 1-0 to notch its sixth-straight victory this past Thursday (Sept. 21) at the Bell Soccer Complex. Gamecock senior forward Savannah McCaskill provided the game-winner after finding the back of the net in the 80th minute.
Carolina remained in control throughout the match and held Kentucky to just one shot attempt on the night. The Gamecocks spent much of the game on the attack and finished the match with 15 shots and eight attempts on goal.
McCaskill's late game-winner resulted from a defensive miscue that left the forward with the ball near the right side of the attacking third. Kentucky's failed clearance set up the Chapin, S.C., native near the top of the box, and McCaskill hit a beautiful chip shot that sent the ball into the top left corner of the net past Kentucky goalkeeper Evangeline Soucie.
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 (Sept. 15) 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 14 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 14 wins.
South Carolina's defensive unit has rounded into form as of late, as the team has notched clean sheets in five of its last six matches. The Gamecocks have allowed just one goal over that stretch, and their 0.55 goals against average for the season ranks fourth in the SEC. Carolina has conceded more than one goal just once in 2017 and allowed three shots on target or less four times.
The Gamecocks sport a 20-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.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Carolina's eight victories this season have came from game-winners from six different players. Gamecock seniors Savannah McCaskill and Lindsey Lane, sophomore forward Elexa Bahr, freshman midfielder Bianca Galassini and first-year attackers Ryan Gareis and Luciana Zullo have all registered game-winning tallies in 2017 for a Gamecock team that had seven players net a game-winner all of last year.
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.
South Carolina's SEC slate continues next week with a road match against No. 20 Ole Miss on Fri., Sept. 29. Kickoff from Ole Miss Soccer Stadium is set for 8 p.m. ET.
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