Nov. 30, 2017
Women's College Cup Semifinals
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 1 seeded South Carolina women's soccer (19-2-1) is set to face top-seeded Stanford (22-1-0) in the Women's College Cup Semifinals on Fri., Dec. 1. The match, which is slated for 5 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium, will air on ESPNU. Friday's contest against the top-ranked Cardinal will mark the College Cup debut for the No. 5 Gamecocks.
FROM THE COACH
"We are thrilled to be here, and it's a special moment for us. I am really proud of what these players have done all year to get here, and I'm looking forward to some great competition. Obviously, it's the best teams in the country. " -- South Carolina women's soccer coach Shelley Smith
Stanford advanced to the College Cup after moving past No. 10 Penn State 4-0 in the NCAA Quarterfinals (Nov. 24). The Cardinal have outscored opponents 16-1 in the NCAA Tournament, opening with a 9-1 victory over Utah Valley (Nov. 11) before posting shutouts against Auburn (Nov. 17), Florida State (Nov. 19) and the Nittany Lions.
Stanford, which has won each of its last 20 matches, pairs the top offense in NCAA Division I with one of the best defensive units in the country. The Cardinal rank first nationally in goals (86), assists (84) and points (256), and their 0.304 goals against average stands as the third-best mark among Division I schools. Freshman forward Catarina Macario leads Stanford and ranks fourth in the country with 17 goals. Her 13 assists mark the highest total nationally, while midfielders Jaye Boissiere and Jordan Dibiasi also enter Friday's match with double-digit assists (10) on the year. Redshirt junior Alison Jahansouz and sophomore Lauren Rood have split time in net for a Cardinal team that boasts 17 shutouts this season.
Friday will mark the third meeting between Carolina and Stanford. The two previous games have come in the NCAA Tournament, as the Cardinal topped the Gamecocks in the second round in 2011 and 2013.
LAST TIME OUT
Top-seeded South Carolina punched its first ticket to the College Cup after topping Florida 2-0 in the NCAA Quarterfinals Friday at Stone Stadium. Sophomore defender Grace Fisk and senior midfielder Lindsey Lane tallied goals to spark the Gamecocks in the All-SEC affair.
Carolina opened the scoring early for the second-straight match, finding the back of the net in the 13th minute when Fisk converted a header at the far post on a Gamecock corner kick. Lane provided the insurance goal in the 77th minute on a brilliant strike from outside the box.
The Gamecocks needed just two attempts on frame to produce their pair of tallies against a Florida squad that held a 13-7 shot advantage. Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski totaled four saves in the match en route to her 14th shutout of the season.
South Carolina is the only program among the four teams in action this weekend to never qualify for the Women's College Cup prior to this season. This year marks Stanford's eighth College Cup appearance and the seventh time in the last 10 years they have reached the semifinal round. Duke will play in the College Cup for the fourth time after securing a semifinal berth for the second time in three years. UCLA, which won the NCAA Championship in 2013, is set to make its 10th College Cup appearance this week in Orlando.
SOUTH CAROLINA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
This season marks Carolina's 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the 10th time in the last 11 years it has reached the event. The Gamecocks sport a mark of 13-9-3 in tournament play, including a record of 2-6-2 when on the road in the NCAA postseason. Ten of Carolina's 11 NCAA Tournament appearances have come under coach Shelley Smith.
STRENGTH VERSUS STRENGTH
Friday's match will feature Stanford's top scoring offense against a Gamecock team that boasts one of the best defenses in NCAA Division I. The Cardinal, who lead the country with 86 goals in 2017, have netted five or more tallies in a game seven times this season. Stanford also ranks first nationally in shots (25.13) and attempts on frame (11.52) per match. The Gamecocks have held an opponent to three or less shots on goal in 16 of its 22 games this year, and their 0.401 goals against average stands as the seventh-best mark in the country. Carolina has conceded multiple goals in a match just twice this season.
GOOD AGAINST GOOD
With last Friday's win over the No. 16 Gators, Carolina set a new single-season program record for victories over ranked opponents with six. The Gamecocks are 10-2 against top-25 foes since the start of the 2016 season, and three of the wins over that stretch have come in the NCAA Tournament. Carolina sports an overall mark of 33-57-12 against ranked opponents, and Friday will mark the fourth time it faces the No. 1 ranked team. The Gamecocks' lone victory over the top-ranked team came during the 2007 season when it knocked off No. 1 North Carolina 1-0. Carolina fell to Stanford 1-0 in 2011 in its last meeting with a team listed at No. 1.
TOURNAMENT CLEAN SHEET
The Gamecocks have yet to concede a goal in the NCAA Tournament, outscoring opponents 7-0 over the first four rounds. Carolina has allowed just one goal over its last eight tournament matches in a stretch that dates back to 2016. The Gamecocks have allowed three or less shots on target five times in those eight matches, holding an opponent to zero attempts on frame twice over that stretch. Carolina's 16 shutouts are a single-year program record, and sophomore Mikayla Krzeczowski's 14 clean sheets in 2017 are one away from the individual school single-season record.
COMING UP CLUTCH
With her goal against Santa Clara in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament, Gamecock attacker Savannah McCaskill set a new program record with 17 game-winners. The senior standout, who set a single-year school record with 10 game-winning tallies in 2016, is tied for second in the SEC with five game-winners this season. McCaskill is also tied for first in school history with 12 game-winning assists, and her seven points in NCAA Tournament play are two away from the all-time school record.
Carolina's freshman class has made an instant impact on the Gamecock attack, accounting for 15 of the team's 37 goals in 2017. A freshman has notched the game-winner in seven of South Carolina's 19 victories, and six first-year players have recorded a point this fall. Forward Luciana Zullo, who has registered a point in four of the last 10 games, ranks third on the team in points (13) and goals (5). First-year midfielder Bianca Galassini's four goals stand as the fourth-best mark on the team, while fellow newcomer Breukelen Woodard is one of three Gamecocks with at least four assists on the year. Freshman attacker Ryan Gareis has netted three goals this season, two of which have resulted in the game-winner.
Carolina's win over Florida in the regular-season finale (Oct. 26) secured the fourth SEC Championship in program history. The Gamecocks won the 2009 SEC Tournament before finishing atop the league standings in 2011, 2016 and 2017. Carolina is the fifth school in league history to notch back-to-back SEC Regular-Season Titles. The Gamecocks are the first program to accomplish the feat since Texas A&M won the 2013 and 2014 conference championships.
AN ELITE GROUP
This year's senior class has enjoyed one of the best four-year runs in school history. The Gamecocks have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons, reaching the Elite Eight three times over that stretch. Carolina's 65 wins since 2014 are the most in a four-year period in program history, and the senior class has collected 16 victories over ranked opponents during its time in Columbia.
The winner of Friday's College Cup Semifinal match between the Gamecocks and Cardinal will advance and face No. 1 seeded Duke or second-seeded UCLA in the NCAA Championship game on Sun., Dec. 3. Sunday's contest at Orlando City Stadium, which is set for noon ET, will air on ESPNU.
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