Oct. 23, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. – In a battle of the Southeastern Conference’s top two defensive teams, South Carolina continued its series advantage over #13 LSU with a 0-0 draw Thursday night at Stone Stadium, improving Carolina’s unbeaten streak against the Tigers to nine games. The Gamecocks are now 6-1-3 in the all-time series against LSU with the only loss coming in the first game between the two teams in Carolina’s inaugural season of 1995.
With the tie, South Carolina improves to 10-4-4 (4-3-2 SEC) with two regular season games remaining. LSU moves to 12-2-1 (6-2-1 SEC) with the game ending LSU’s school record five-game winning streak. The Gamecocks improve to 8-0-2 at home this season and run their Stone Stadium record to 23-1-5 since the beginning of the 2006 season.
Mollie Patton registered the shutout for South Carolina for her seventh of the season. With two regular season games remaining, Patton ties the South Carolina single-season record for shutouts that was set in 2003 by Elise Matthews and 2007 by Laura Armstrong. Playing in her first season in goal for Carolina, the redshirt-sophomore moves into fifth place on the Carolina all-time shutouts list.
LSU is the second ranked team that South Carolina has played this year as the Gamecocks move to 0-0-2 against ranked opponents. Carolina drew then-No. 7 Florida State, 3-3, on Sept. 14 at the Auburn Soccer Classic in Auburn, Ala. The Gamecocks are also unbeaten in overtime games this year, posting a 1-0-4 record in extra minutes.
“The positive we’ll take is that we played a ranked team and we should be the team that came out on the winning end,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “That’s frustrating but it’s a positive to know that we have the talent. When you’re playing a very good team you have to be that much better.”
As was expected in a game featuring the SEC’s top two defenses, the match proved to be backline battle as the teams were limited to eight shots in each period – six for Carolina in both stanza’s and two for LSU in both halves. South Carolina ended the game with a 15-4 shot advantage and 7-1 edge in shots on goal. LSU was held without a shot in both overtime periods. The game marked the ninth time that the Gamecocks have held an SEC opponent to four shots or less and the second time this season after Carolina held Mississippi State to four shots in a 2-1 win on Oct. 10.
“This game says a lot about our defense,” Smith said. “We talk a lot about our back four and they did an excellent job. We didn’t give up many opportunities, and we gave our team an opportunity to win. That was frustrating but at the same time we got better from last weekend. That’s what we’ll take from this for last two games.”
Danila Monteiro got the Gamecocks started early with a shot in the fifth minute off a Kim Miller corner kick. The Gamecock defense held the conference’s most potent offensive attack in check throughout the opening stanza as the Tigers did not get their first offensive look until a Malorie Rutledge corner kick in the 17th minute was pushed out of danger by Patton.
The Tigers came close to scoring the first goal of the game in the 21st minute when Roslyn Jones sent a cross to Melissa Clarke for a blazing strike that missed wide left. LSU then had a scare in the 30th minute when Rutledge went down following a Rachel Yepez shot and Patton save, her only of the day in a game where the Carolina defense dominated LSU’s attack.
Using momentum from the save, Natalie Aaron gave Carolina its best chance to score in the half after a pass from Kayla Grimsley found her behind the backline for a 1v1 with LSU keeper Mo Isom in the 37th minute. Aaron squared up her shot but was denied by Isom, who registered seven saves in the game. Isom was again tested in the 41st minute after Miller played a ball to a streaking Grimsley whose 1v1 opportunity was again saved.
Carolina came out strong in the second half and again came close to scoring in the 52nd minute off a Lindsay Small shot to the high post that Isom put a finger on before colliding with the near post. The ball tipped over the net but Isom stayed on the ground after her collision before eventually collecting herself. Grimsley would give Carolina’s its next look in the 78th with a shot in the 18′ that was blocked by an LSU defender to end the threat.
South Carolina attempted two shots in the first overtime period, the first courtesy of a Monteiro header in the 96th that was saved. The second came with three second remaining in the overtime period after the LSU misplayed a ball and gave it away to Aaron for a 1v1 attempt inside the 18′, but her shot was saved by a diving Isom to send the game to double-overtime. Neither team was able to muster much on the attack in the final overtime period with Carolina registering the lone shot.
South Carolina travels to Arkansas Sunday for the final road match of the 2008 regular season. The Gamecocks and Lady’Backs – who dropped a 3-0 decision to SEC leader Florida Thursday – will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. EST before Carolina returns home next Thursday night for a nationally televised match against the Florida Gators.