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Nov. 16, 2007

Box Score

ATHENS, Ga. – The 23rd-ranked South Carolina women’s soccer team saw its season end to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after falling in penalty kicks Friday at the Turner Soccer Complex in Athens, Ga. The Gamecocks and Blue Devils tied, 1-1, at the end of double-overtime before Duke advanced with a 4-1 edge in penalty kicks. Carolina ends its season at 14-6-3 while Duke improves to 8-5-7.

“It’s been a great season,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “You never want to end that way, especially with such a big group of seniors. The thing is, we had players that can hit those penalty kick’s nine out of 10 times, but unfortunately tonight wasn’t the night for that to happen. With penalty kicks you tend to have players sometimes blame themselves, but we had a great team effort and (the game) is a tie even though it feels like a loss because we’re not playing again.”

Carolina missed its first two penalty kicks with one hitting the left post and the second saved by Duke goalkeeper Allison Lipsher. Duke was able to convert on their first two into the right corner of the net to take a 2-0 advantage after four had kicked. After Duke hit its third to go up 3-0, Carolina’s Kim Miller converted with a shot into the left corner to keep the Gamecocks alive, but Duke’s fourth attempt found the back of the net to allow the Blue Devils to advance to play the winner of the Georgia-Alabama A&M match.

Blakely Mattern scored the lone goal in regulation for Carolina at 65:29 to tie the game at 1-1. The score, a shot in the box off a free kick from Brittiny Rhoades, tied the match just two minutes and 19 seconds after Duke took the lead in the 64th minute. The goal was the second of the season for Mattern, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

“Blakely’s goal was big to help us come from behind,” Smith said. “Lindsay Thorstenson played a great game for us (in goal). That’s been the situation all year with she and Laura Armstrong alternating in goal for us. It’s great when you can have two senior goalkeepers that can play at such a high level.”

The first half was reminiscent of Carolina’s season-opening game against another ACC opponent in North Carolina. Much like that game that ended in a 1-0 South Carolina victory, the Blue Devils kept the Gamecocks on the defensive. Carolina only shot on goal in the first half came in the 36th minute from Ashley Kirk off a Brittiny Rhoades corner kick.

Despite controlling possession for the majority of the half, Duke was also held to one shot on goal despite attempting seven shots. That shot on goal came in the sixth minute when Rebecca Allen’s shot off a corner kick sailed to the right corner of the net. The shot caught Gamecock goalkeeper Lindsay Thorstenson off guard but Rhoades kicked it out just before it passed the goal line.

Carolina had two more chances in the first half, both occurring after speedster Darcel Mollon beat the Duke defense to push the ball into the Carolina attacking third. A first opportunity occurred in the 21st minute, but the pass to Erin Sullivan in the box went slightly long and into the keeper’s arms. A second chance presented itself in the 29th minute, but Mary Worthen’s header popped high to end the threat.

The Gamecocks kept on the attack at the start of the second half with a pass to Worthen in the box just missing. Both teams found their offense in the half with multiple shots for each team in the first 20 minutes of the half, but Duke was the first to capitalize with first team All-ACC performer Lorraine Quinn’s shot from 20 yards out that sailed over the defense and found the back of the net.

Carolina quickly focused on tying the game and saw its opportunity two minutes later when Mollon was fouled outside the penalty box before she could attempt a shot. Rhoades took the free kick on the right side in what amounted to a shorter version of a corner kick as the ball found its way in front of Mattern for the score.

The Gamecocks came close to taking the lead in the 78th minute when Samantha Diaz-Matosas centered a ball in front of the goal, but Brooke Jacobs collided with Lipsher and a Duke defender to prevent the chance. Sullivan gave Carolina its last opportunity with a striking shot from 20 yards out in the final minute of regulation but Lipsher recorded a great diving save to help send the game into overtime.

Neither team attempted a shot in either extra period as the teams battled for 20 minutes before heading into penalty kicks.

Duke finished the game with a 15-9 shot advantage and a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. South Carolina attempted six corner kicks to Duke’s five while USC also committed more fouls, 10-8. Carolina recorded four saves to Duke’s two, marking just the sixth time this season the Gamecocks recorded more saves than their opponent.

South Carolina improves to 0-1-1 in NCAA Tournament play with this match officially recorded as a draw. Carolina’s only other NCAA Tournament appearance came in 1998 when the Gamecocks fell to Charlotte, 2-0.