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Sept. 12, 2008

Final Stats

AUBURN, ALA. – Freshman Kayla Grimsley scored for the second consecutive game as her header in the 87th minute propelled the South Carolina women’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Marquette at the Auburn Soccer Classic. The win improves Carolina’s unbeaten streak to six games as they begin the season with a 5-0-1 record. Mollie Patton registered her SEC-leading fifth shutout of the season to lead Carolina.

With three minutes remaining in the second period and the score deadlocked, Shannon Bigbie took a corner kick that landed right at Grimsley’s head in front of the goal and went into the next with 3:14 remaining to give South Carolina its first victory on the road. The assist was Bigbie’s second of the year on a game-winning goal.

“I wasn’t even sure initially if Kayla had a piece of it,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “It was a scramble and she did enough to distract the keeper and get a head on it. It was great for Shannon to put the ball where we needed it. We haven’t scored on a set piece, and that was one of our goals this weekend. That’s the difference between wining and losing often. That gave us a chance and it was big to get that goal.”

Marquette falls to 4-2-0 with the loss. The series between the two teams is now tied 1-1 with Marquette’s victory coming in the 1995 season.

“It’s good to have this kind of victory on the road,” Smith said. “We were challenged to come in here against a good team like Marquette. I thought every player on our team stepped up and found a way to finish the game. I thought we matched well and played our game. We ended up chasing a little bit and came out with a hardworking play that got us a goal. I’m proud of the effort. The first five games have been a team effort with players coming in and giving us a lift when needed and doing what they are asked to do. That’s why we have been successful at this point.”

South Carolina went on the attack immediately after the opening whistle blew, earning their first corner kick opportunity just 20 seconds into the match before getting another two minutes later. Pressing Marquette’s backline, the Gamecocks got their first look on goal in the 10th minute after Shannon Bigbie’s run and cross yielded a sharp shot by Brooke Jacobs that nearly went in before it was saved by Golden Eagle keeper Chelsey Turner. Kim Miller gave Carolina another strong look in the 11th with a shot that just missed the far post to end the early Carolina threat.

The Gamecocks attempted four corner kicks in the opening 20 minutes of play as they controlled the ball for the early portion of the match. Marquette put its biggest scare in the 30th minute after Carolina was called for a foul just outside the 18′, leading to what amounted to a shorter version of a corner kick. However, the shot following the kick was off the frame.

Neither team was able to get a good look in the final 15 minutes as they battled in a midfield tug-of-war with neither team gaining a strong possession heading into the half. At the break, South Carolina held an 8-4 advantage in shots and 5-1 advantage in corner kicks.

Marquette pushed up its intensity in the second half, firing off three shots in the first five minutes. However, the first look on goal came when Carolina’s Jacobs had a breakaway in the 52nd minute that sailed over the net. The Gamecocks had another strong look in the 65th when Bonny Lepley was fouled 20 yards out, leading to a free kick that did not yield a goal.

The Golden Eagles saw their best look at Patton come in the 77th minute on a header that just missed the mark. Patton ended the game with four saves in the shutout, improving her season goals against average to 0.16. Six games into the season, the five shutouts are a South Carolina sophomore record for goalkeepers, surpassing Elise Matthews’s sophomore mark of four set in 2001.

South Carolina returns to action Sunday when they take on No. 7 Florida State at 11 a.m. (CT). The match is the first in the series between the Gamecocks and Seminoles. Florida State is the first ranked team that the Gamecocks will take on this season.