Oct. 26, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior Kim Miller did as an individual what no other team as a whole has been able to do in Arkansas’s previous 17 games – score two first half goals against the Razorbacks – as she led South Carolina to a 3-1 victory at Razorback Field Sunday. Brooke Jacobs added an insurance goal in the second half as the Gamecocks clinched an SEC Tournament berth with the victory.
Miller scored in the 15th and 37th minutes for the first multi-goal game of her career. The win improves South Carolina to 11-4-4 (5-3-2 SEC) on the year. Arkansas drops to 11-7-0 (4-6-0 SEC) and on the outside looking in at ninth in the conference standings.
“The wind played a big part today,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “Even against the wind I thought we did well to keep playing. We limited the chances they had. Anytime balls went long, Blakely Mattern, Ellen Fahey and Lindsay Small came up huge with balls in the air and winning balls against their kids in the middle. Kim Miller not only scored for us today but she played a tremendous game in the middle. When our backline was forced to win those balls in the air, she did a great job to win the second knockdown. She was all over the place today and it was nice for her to be recognized for scoring.”
Carolina began attacking Arkansas early as Lindsay Small collected a misclearance by the Arkansas defense just outside the 18′, creating a mass attack that did not result in a shot as Arkansas was able to clear the ball out of the cluster of players fighting for the ball. Less than a minute later, Brittiny Rhoades took a foul on the left flank outside the 18′, setting up a Kim Miller free kick that she angled past keeper Britni Williams and into the goal at 14:54 for her third goal of the season. It was the third time this year that Arkansas has given up a first half goal while it also ended a three-game South Carolina scoreless streak, the first time the Gamecocks had been held without a goal in three games since the 2001 season.
Miller connected on what she thought was her second goal of the half off a corner kick that bent in the net in the 17th minute, but the score was nullified by an offsides call. Kayla Grimsley then gave Carolina another strong look in the 21st minute with a strike that bounced off the gloves of Williams to prevent the goal. Continuing the offensive onslaught against the Arkansas defense, Miller and Grimsley again came close to connecting in the 26th when a Miller free kick found Grimsley for a header that sailed wide. The Razorbacks used the momentum to attack as Razorback Sophie Wentz beat her defender on the right flank for a shot that was untouchable for keeper Mollie Patton but was saved by defender Blakely Mattern to end the threat.
Already proven to be deadly on set pieces in the first half with a score on a free kick and near score on her first corner kick, Miller recorded her second goal of the game off a corner kick that she curved into the net at 36:35. Carolina became the first team this season to score two first half goals against Arkansas.
“(Before) the game we practiced corners because the wind was hard to deal with,” Smith said. “Her first free kick she nailed it, and the corner was great too. She hit both perfectly and it’s difficult to handle those in the wind.”
Bonny Lepley gave Carolina its best chance to score a third goal in the half in the 41st with a shot that went just high. With less than a minute remaining, Patton endured her biggest test of the half with a Lady’Back free kick that nearly went in the net off a rebound before Patton picked it up in traffic. Carolina held an 8-4 shot advantage at the half.
Kailey Anders put Arkansas on board at 55:52 with a goal from 25 yards out that sailed into the net with the heavy wind putting the ball out of Patton’s reach. Carolina received a scare in the 68th minute after Grimsley hurt her foot attempting to avoid a collision with Lady’Back keeper Williams following a near-goal and resulting save. Grimsley did not return to the match following the delay.
Miller set up Carolina’s third goal of the game after controlling a free kick at midfield that landed at Shannon Bigbie’s feet in the box. Bigbie split the defenders and played it to Brooke Jacobs on the right flank for a strike at 76:44 that went into the back of the net at the far post for the 3-1 lead. The goal was Jacobs’s second of the year and third in her career. Jacobs’s first career goal came against Arkansas last season when she knocked in the game-winner on Carolina’s senior day.
Arkansas attacked immediately after the goal with Lindsay Patterson getting a fierce shot on Patton in the 78th minute from six yards out that was clutch-saved to keep the two-goal cushion for Carolina.
South Carolina ended with an 11-8 edge in shots and 5-0 edge in corner kicks. Mollie Patton recorded three saves in the win.
“We used a lot of players today,” Smith said. “They all came in and did a good job with their roles and the minutes they played. Once again, it’s a nice team victory.”
South Carolina returns home Thursday night for a nationally televised match against SEC champion Florida. The Gamecocks and Gators will kick off at 8 p.m. at Stone Stadium for the NSCAA Game of the Week, televised nationally by the Fox Soccer Channel (Time Warner Cable channel 149).