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Oct. 12, 2008

Final Stats


COLUMBIA, S.C.Samantha Diaz-Matosas scored the game-winner in a five goal second half as the South Carolina women’s soccer team held on to defeat Ole Miss 3-2 Sunday at Stone Stadium. The win improves the Gamecocks to 10-2-3 (4-1-1 SEC) on the season while the Rebels fall to 5-7-2 (3-3-0 SEC).

Following a scoreless and even first half, Blakely Mattern put Carolina ahead 42 seconds at the start of the second period and Shannon Bigbie added another goal 1:25 later before Ole Miss countered with goals in the 59th and 62nd minute to even the match, 2-2, with under 30 minutes remaining in regulation. Diaz-Matosas then moved up for the Gamecocks and put away the winning goal just yards in front of the net at 87:33 for her second game-winner of the season.

Mattern recorded her third goal of the season with a header off a Brittiny Rhoades corner kick 45:42 into the match. To begin the second half, Kayla Grimsley played a ball to Shannon Bigbie on the left flank and Bigbie was able to get a corner kick for the Gamecocks. Mattern’s header beat the keeper and crossed the line before getting headed out by Mississippi defender Mallory Coleman, but the referee blew the whistle signaling the goal.

“We’re dangerous off corners,” Smith said. “For us to get a chance to put it away, I thought we did a good job. We didn’t have many shots today but for us to finish the opportunities we were given is the difference in winning games.”

Shortly after, Bigbie would get rewarded when Diaz-Matosas crossed a ball from the right flank that was one-touched by Grimsley to give Bigbie an open shot from 12 yards out. The goal came at 47:07 and was the second career goal for Bigbie.

Kayla Grimsley’s assist improved her scoring streak to six consecutive matches, tying the South Carolina record set by Lydia Bienias in 1998. Grimsley has scored four goals and three assists during the streak that began with the start of SEC play.

“Today is a game we tried to rotate players,” Smith said. “We know how valuable (Grimsley) is. We try to keep her out there as long as we can. Today she played 90 minutes and she did a great job for us. That tells you right there that it’s hard to take her off the field. We’re working to get Dani Monteiro back in after her injury. She had a chance to get out there today for the first time since Western Carolina. Kayla learned very quickly before Dani got injured, and for her to have someone else to look to will help her stay fresh.”

The Rebels got on the board at 58:09 when Jennifer Hance headed in a free kick by Danielle Johnson to cut the game to 2-1. Four minutes later Taylor Cunningham hit the equalizer at 61:51 when she one-timed a shot from 25 yards out. The teams then played 26 minutes of even soccer before Grimsley led a charge down the right flank and collided with a Rebel defender in the penalty box. A penalty kick was not awarded with the absence of a foul call and Diaz-Matosas took advantage by collecting the ball and taking her shot with no Ole Miss defenders near her.

“It’s tough emotionally trying to keep your head in the game when you go up and then you’re tied again,” Rhoades said. “When Sam got the goal it was like a rush of relief. At the same time you have to keep your heart and spirit in the game because you still have (three) minutes to get the job done.”

The three-goal second half marks the second consecutive game against Ole Miss that the Gamecocks have scored three in a half. Last season in Oxford, Darcel Mollon hit two goals and Kim Miller hit the game-winner for a three-goal first half.

“We talked about picking up our play in the second half,” Smith said. “We felt we put ourselves under pressure in the first half by not putting the ball in dangerous areas. They were winning 50-50’s in the middle to start the game. I thought we played a much better second half.”

South Carolina hits the road again next weekend as it travels to the state of Alabama to take on two SEC Western division opponents. The Gamecocks take on Alabama (8-5-1; 3-3-0 SEC) Friday at 8 p.m. ET before traveling to play Auburn (7-6-2; 3-2-1 SEC) Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Gamecocks went 2-0 against the two teams last season at Stone Stadium.