Oct. 3, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Kayla Grimsley notched South Carolina’s first individual multi-goal game of the year in leading the No. 24 Gamecocks to a 2-0 shutout of Kentucky Friday night at the UK Soccer Complex. Mollie Patton recorded her sixth shutout of the year as the Gamecocks earn their first SEC shutout victory on the road since defeating No. 13 Auburn 1-0 on Sept. 24, 2006 (not including Carolina’s 2-0 victory against Tennessee at the neutral site Orange Beach Soccer Complex last season at the SEC Tournament).
With the win, South Carolina improves to 8-1-3 overall and 2-0-1 in SEC play. The loss drops Kentucky to 3-6-2 overall and 1-1-1 in league play. The victory marks South Carolina’s second straight against the Wildcats after also defeating them 2-0 last season at Stone Stadium.
Grimsley now leads the team with six goals and three assists for 15 points in her first season with the Gamecocks. Only 12 games into the season, Grimsley’s 15 points put her in a tie for tops in the SEC and also puts her tied for fourth all-time for Carolina freshman, matching the 15 set by Becca Epstein in 2000 when she recorded six goals and three assists in 20 games. Tied for second on Carolina’s freshman list is Morgan McIntyre and Lydia Bienias who both registered eight goals and two assists for 18 points. Gamecock great Jennie Ondo holds the freshman record for points in a season with 34 set in 1996.
“She’s been a difference and has made a huge impact on the team,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said of Grimsley. “To come in as a freshman and be that composed and find ways to finish her chances shows how solid a player she is. She’s extremely skilled but she’s also making good decisions. She’s an unselfish player with her passes, but she also knows if she’s beating someone in the box to get her shot off.”
South Carolina attacked the Wildcats early and often with Kim Miller getting the first shot just 2:29 into the match that was saved by Kentucky keeper Sydney Hiance. Carolina then was able to get off three corner kicks before the six-minute mark before Kayla Grimsley hit her fifth goal of the season from five yards out off an assist from Maria Petroni at 10:18, marking Carolina’s second-fastest goal so far this year.
The score also marked Carolina’s first this year in a true road game after the Gamecocks went scoreless in the season-opening match at UNC Wilmington and at Western Carolina in the non-conference finale. However, South Carolina was able to get looks on goal in both of its neutral site games, recording a goal in a victory against Marquette and posting three scores in a tie against then-No. 7 Florida State in Auburn, Ala.
Following Grimsley’s 11th minute goal, neither team could get the ball moving out of the midfield as only two shots were attempted in the 30 minutes following Grimsley’s goal, both taken by the Wildcats in the 25th and 27th minutes. Kentucky began applying pressure in the final five minutes of the half with three shots and a corner kick, but Gamecock keeper Mollie Patton recorded a save on one attempt while the other two missed the mark.
Grimsley scored her second goal of the night just 12 minutes into the second half, showing a knack for getting on the board early. Brooke Jacobs, who started the second half after being the first player off the bench in the first, recorded the assist when she found Grimsley at 57:12 for a one-timer in front of the net.
“We came out from the start ready to play,” Smith said. “We took control of the game from the onset and got an early goal. We had a lot of the possession and had good chances before finally Kayla had a great goal. Towards the end of the first half we started to lose the ball a bit. We lost our style of play so going into the second half we needed to continue to control the game. We stepped up our play. Putting the second goal in was a nice cushion for us to go up a goal and be a little more relaxed.”
Having already established herself as a top goalkeeper in the conference in her first season in goal, redshirt sophomore Mollie Patton continued to preserve her sixth shutout in the 73rd minute when Kentucky’s Kristen Kover attempted a penalty kick at 72:53 following a Carolina foul in the box. Kover’s attempt was saved by Patton, marking the second consecutive game that Patton avoided giving up a goal on a penalty kick as she also came out untouched in the first half last Sunday against a Georgia’s Natalie Farley on a penalty kick in the 19th minute. Carolina now has seven shutouts on the year with Patton and freshman keeper Roya Mojarab combining for a shutout against East Tennessee State.
“Unfortunately we gave them a penalty kick that was unfortunate,” Smith said. “It could have been called or not but fortunately for us she missed the PK. Overall I thought it was a solid game and a great effort.”
Kentucky recorded an 11-6 edge in shots but only two found the frame as the Carolina defense continued the shutout play that has characterized Smith’s tenure at South Carolina. The Gamecocks held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.
“Overall I thought we came prepared to play,” Smith said. “They stepped up and did what was asked. We battled and played our game and got the result in the end.”
South Carolina returns to the pitch Sunday with an away game at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. That game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff as the Gamecocks look to record their first victory against the Commodores since the 1999 season. Vanderbilt (6-3-1, 0-2-0 SEC) has dropped two straight to open SEC play and played Florida late Friday night.