Sept. 28, 2017
#3 Women's Soccer at #18 Ole Miss
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 3 South Carolina women's soccer (9-1-0, 3-0-0 SEC) resumes SEC play this week when it faces No. 18 Ole Miss (9-1-1, 2-1-0 SEC) on the road on Fri., Sept. 29. Kickoff for Friday's top-25 battle is slated for 8 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+.
FROM THE COACH
"It's going to be a great match-up. Coach (Matt) Mott has done a great job with that team, and they have some quality players. We know it's going to be a battle in Oxford. We need to slow down their attack that has been very effective this year. We know we're going to get everyone's best game -- we just need to prepare and match their intensity." -- South Carolina women's soccer coach Shelley Smith
SCOUTING OLE MISS
The Rebels have paced the SEC on both ends of the field this season. Ole Miss leads the league and NCAA Division I in goals (43) and points (119), and its three goals allowed and 0.27 goals against average both stand as the top marks in the conference. The Rebels sport a mark of 6-0-1 at home this season, and Friday will mark their second match against a ranked foe in 2017. Ole Miss fell to then-No. 7 Florida 1-0 (Sept. 14) on the road.
Junior CeCe Kizer and freshman Channing Foster spearhead the Rebel attack with 10 goals each. Their scoring outputs rank first in the SEC and second among NCAA Division I players, while Kizer's 27 points also top the conference and stand as the second-best total nationally. Junior forward Mary Kate Smith marks the third player with double-digit points (10) this season for an Ole Miss team that ranks fourth in the country with 20.18 shots per game. Redshirt junior Marnie Merritt sports six shutouts on the year after appearing in 10 of the Rebels' first 11 contests of 2017.
South Carolina has won seven of its last 10 matches against Ole Miss. The Gamecocks, who hold an all-time mark of 10-5-3 in the series, have gone 4-3-2 when facing the Rebels on the road.
LAST TIME OUT
Freshman midfielder Lauren Chang netted a goal in the 95th minute to give South Carolina a dramatic 1-0 victory over No. 21 Tennessee in this past Sunday's (Sept. 24) top-25 battle at Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks pushed their winning streak to seven games and remained atop the SEC standings with the win.
Chang notched the game-winning tally after Carolina earned a free kick near the top of the attacking third. Gamecock senior striker Savannah McCaskill's pass into the box found center back Grace Fisk, who used her head to flick the ball towards the front of the net. Fisk's pass fell to Luciana Zullo, and the Carolina freshman attacker took one touch with her chest to create a dangerous loose ball. Chang took advantage of the opportunity and stretched her left leg out to poke a shot past Tennessee goalkeeper Shae Yanez.
Sunday featured a defensive battle, as both attacks were kept in check during the match. The Gamecocks held Tennessee to just two shots on goal, and Carolina outshot the Volunteers 17-10 for the game.
WE'RE NUMBER ONE
Carolina remained atop the Women's Soccer RPI rankings this week, the NCAA announced Monday. The Gamecocks earned the program's highest spot in the rankings after debuting at No. 1 on Sept. 18. 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), North Carolina (No. 3), UCF (No. 4) and Texas (No. 5) rounded out the top-five in Monday's ranking. The Gamecocks, who moved past the Knights 2-0 in their season opener on Aug. 18, boast four wins against teams currently ranked inside the top-20 of the RPI.
South Carolina stayed at No. 3 in Tuesday's United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Gamecocks, who have spent four weeks inside the top-five this season, have been positioned in the top-15 in each of the last 18 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.
SOUTH CAROLINA AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
South Carolina sports an all-time mark of 30-57-12 against ranked opponents. The Gamecocks boasted a program single-season record five victories over top-25 foes in 2016, defeating No. 6 Clemson (2-1), No. 11 Arkansas (3-1), No. 17 Florida (1-0), No. 20 Colorado (1-0) and No. 4 BYU (1-0). Carolina has won eight of its last 10 matches against ranked opponents, and it notched victories over No. 23 Michigan (1-0, Sept. 3), No. 4 Clemson (1-0, Sept. 8) and No. 21 Tennessee (1-0, Sept. 24) in its three previous contests against top-25 foes this season.
STREAKING IN THE SEC
The Gamecocks have won each of their last 15 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 12 of the 15 wins.
NO GOALS FOR YOU
South Carolina enters Friday's match as the only SEC team to not allow a goal in conference play. The Gamecocks have notched clean sheets in six of their last seven matches, allowing just one goal over that stretch. Carolina, which has conceded more than one goal just once in 2017, ranks fourth in the league with a 0.49 goals against average for the season. The Gamecocks have allowed three or less shots on target fives times for the year.
The Gamecocks sport a 21-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.
GUTTING IT OUT
Six of Carolina's victories during its seven-match winning streak have been by one goal, and two of the wins have come in overtime. The Gamecocks have netted the game-winner in the final 15 minutes of a match four times during the stretch.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Carolina's nine victories this season have came from game-winners from seven different players. Gamecock seniors Savannah McCaskill and Lindsey Lane, sophomore forward Elexa Bahr, freshmen midfielders Bianca Galassini and Lauren Chang 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.
South Carolina returns to action next week when it plays host to Mississippi State on Thu., Oct. 5. The match, which can be seen on SEC Network+, gets underway at Stone Stadium at 7 p.m. ET.
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