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Aug. 31, 2008

Box Score COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina junior midfielder Lindsay Small could pick no better time to score her first career goal as she led the Gamecock women’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory against Boston Sunday night at Stone Stadium. The match was the first between the Gamecocks (2-0-1) and Terriers (1-2-0) as the two 2007 NCAA Tournament teams battled in a close match that was decided in the midst of heavy rain for the final 20 minutes of action.

Despite outshooting the Terriers 12-10, Carolina couldn’t seem to get shots on the frame as they went into the half with zero of their five shots on goal. Small’s goal in the 56th minute was only Carolina’s second to the net as the Gamecocks finished with four on frame. It went slightly better for the Terriers as six of their 10 shots hit the mark, but Gamecock goalkeeper Mollie Patton continued her strong play in her first year in goal with six saves in the shutout. Patton has posted three shutouts to begin the season, a stretch that includes 290 minutes of shutout play. The streak is the longest to begin a season for a South Carolina goalkeeper and marks the first time that the Gamecocks began a season with three consecutive shutouts.

“We started off well,” Smith said. “Our players at halftime picked up their play. They did what we asked and I’m proud of them.”

Carolina came close to scoring an early goal in the 13th minute when Shannon Bigbie played a ball on the left flank up to Small ahead of the Boston defense. Small’s center to Brooke Jacobs landed perfectly, but the sophomore’s effort just missed the right post to keep the game tied. The first shot on goal for either team did not come until the 28th minute when Boston’s Marisha Schumacher-Hodge lofted one to the top of the goal that was punch saved by Patton before sneaking in.

With a nearly even game at the half in every statistical category, the Gamecocks did not get a shot on goal until Small struck one in the 54th minute that was saved by Boston keeper Janie Reilly. Normally more of a defensive midfielder for the Gamecocks, Small continued on the attack and saw her opportunity when Kim Miller played crossed a long ball from right that was challenged by Bigbie before finding Small 12 yards out for the goal. The assist was Bigbie’s second career and the fourth career for Miller.

“It was a great ball by Miller on the right side,” Small said. “It was really intended for Shannon. She challenged the ball with a Boston defender in front of her and luckily it just landed right at my feet.”

Neither team was able to get strong looks in the final 20 minutes as rain began to fall heavily onto the field, causing the Stone Stadium crowd of 404 to search for cover. One Terrier ball bounced high in the box in the rain but was caught by Patton before bouncing into the net. Boston’s best opportunity at the equalizer came in the 85th minute as Lina Cords attempted a direct kick from 25 yards out that sailed over the top of the goal.

South Carolina returns to the pitch Friday when they host the Carolina’s Cup at Stone Stadium Sept. 5-7. Furman and Francis Marion will compete in the first game of the tournament at 5 p.m. Friday followed by the rivalry match between the Carolina and Clemson scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The Gamecocks last defeated the Tigers in 2006 at Stone Stadium in a 1-0 victory in front of 2,823 fans.