Sept. 6, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four Gamecocks scored in a dominating offensive and defensive effort as the South Carolina women’s soccer team shutout Cincinnati 4-0 Sunday to claim the Cardinal Classic title at Cardinal Park in Louisville, Ky. With the win, South Carolina improves to 4-0 on the year, and Cincinnati falls to 2-3 overall.
In a game where the Gamecocks out-shot the Bearcats 22-10 and held a 7-2 edge in corner kicks, a trio of defenders notched goals and a sophomore scored her first career goal to lead the team to the tournament title. Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award candidate Blakely Mattern hit the game winner at 26:54 courtesy of assists from fellow defenders Ellen Fahey and Samantha Diaz-Matosas. A three-goal second half began with Diaz-Matosas scoring in the 60th minute off a Kayla Grimsley assist before two players ended the scoring with their first career goals. Freshman defender Megan Fligg scored in the 80th and sophomore forward Maria Petroni hit the final goal in the 82nd to round out the offensive output. Kim Miller assisted both of the final goals.
“I’m thrilled to score that many goals and have another shutout,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “Everyone that came in the game did a tremendous job for us. We had players step up to score goals and put the game away. We had some with the first goals of the their career in Megan Fligg and Maria Petroni. That’s exciting for them and the whole team. They support each other so well, and that’s how we’ll have success this year. It was a total team effort.”
Four Gamecocks were named to the Cardinal Classic All-Tournament Team: Mattern, Miller, Grimsley and goalkeeper Mollie Patton who registered five stunning saves Sunday to cap an 11-save weekend. Miller and Grimsley both extended their season-opening consecutive match scoring streaks to four games. They are tied for the team lead with seven points through four games.
“Mollie had a tremendous weekend,” Smith said. “We had two shutouts and we always credit that to the entire team defense, but Mollie had huge saves for us to keep us in the games, get the win and the shutouts. We take a lot of pride in our defending, and we did a good job of that to not allow any goals this weekend.”
For the second straight match, South Carolina opened with a strong offensive attack beginning with a flurry of shots in front of the goal in the opening minutes. In the fourth minute, Miller’s shot in front of the net was saved, but the deflection went back to Carolina for what almost turned into the first goal of the match before a Bearcat defender bailed the keeper out with a save on the line.
The Gamecocks continued pressing with four shots and three corner kicks in the opening 15 minutes before Cincinnati caught a break in the 20th. A South Carolina defensive miscue lead to a 1v1 opportunity for Cincinnati’s Julie Morrissey, but Gamecock keeper Patton stepped out to block the open shot attempt.
South Carolina was able to use the swing of momentum minutes later when Miller was awarded a corner kick in the 27th minute. The service found Lindsay Small’s head for a shot, and the deflection off the save went to Ellen Fahey beside the post. Fahey sent it back to Diaz-Matosas, who in turn fed it to Mattern for the first goal of the game at 26:54.
The Bearcats were able to get two more open looks in the box on Patton in the remaining 20 minutes of the half, but the redshirt junior saved both attempts as South Carolina went into the half with an 11-3 shot advantage and 6-0 corner kick advantage.
The Gamecocks went straight to business at the start of the second stanza and came within inches of a second goal in the opening seconds when Small boomed a shot from 30 yards out that was saved by the keeper’s fingertips at the top of the net. The ensuing corner kick taken by Diaz-Matosas reached Grimsley’s head for an attempt that banged off the left post to end the threat.
From that point, South Carolina settled into a groove offensively and defensively to put the game out of hand. At 59:32, Grimsley displayed her footwork in eluding four Bearcat defenders before finding Diaz-Matosas in front of the net for the 2-0 lead.
Fligg pushed the score to 3-0 at 79:09 with a strike from 30 yards out courtesy of an assist from Miller. Just two minutes later, Miller connected with Petroni at 81:13 for the final goal at 81:13. Miller sent the ball up past midfield, and Petroni outran the defense and circled around the keeper to send the ball into the net.
South Carolina hits the field next weekend at the Carolina’s Cup in Clemson, S.C. The Gamecocks will take on their rival Clemson Friday night at 7:30 p.m. They will face UNC Wilmington Sunday at 11:30 a.m. South Carolina will look to win the tournament for the third consecutive season.