Oct. 18, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The fifth-ranked South Carolina women’s soccer team defeated Tennessee for the first time in Knoxville in a 2-1 victory Sunday at Regal Stadium. Lindsay Small hit the game-winner in the 56th as South Carolina earns its third straight victory against the Lady Vols after going winless in the first 13 meetings between the SEC East rivals.
The win moves the Gamecocks to 14-1-1 (6-1-1 SEC) and ties the program records for most overall and SEC wins in a season. The Gamecocks remain in a tie atop the SEC standings and are first in the SEC East division after rebounding from their first loss of the season Friday night.
“They did a tremendous job,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “Coming out here after a loss against Georgia, to rebound like we did on the road in the SEC is a tremendous result for us. I’m really proud how we responded and reacted. I’m glad we went that long without a loss, but I had a little anxiety to see how they would bounce back. They came out here and did the job today. We had chances, Tennessee had chances, we weathered the pressure and came out with a result.”
Sophomore Kayla Grimsley scored a first half goal for the second consecutive game and is second in the conference with her unassisted score in the 33rd. She then assisted Small’s goal for a three-point day. Tennessee’s Mick Imgram prevented the Carolina shutout with a score off a free kick in the 70th.
Junior Mollie Patton recorded six saves, including one from six yards out on an indirect free kick. Her six saves tie a season high for the nation’s leader in goals against average.
The Lady Vols began the game on the offensive with two corner kicks in the opening 30 seconds, but it became clear afterwards that the first half would belong to Carolina offensively. Small had two close shots in the box in the opening three minutes. The Vols had an early opportunity in the eighth minute when Tanya Emerson received the ball six yards out, but her strike was blocked off the chest of Samantha Diaz-Matosas and the Gamecocks kept momentum.
Despite corner kick opportunities and strong runs, the Gamecocks weren’t able to get one across the line until Grimsley’s run dazzled the crowd in the 33rd. She took the ball down the right side and outran the defense in order to slot the ball past the Tennessee goalkeeper at 32:19 to put Carolina up 1-0.
Tennessee caught a break three minutes later, though, after being awarded an indirect kick just six yards in front of the Gamecocks net. The play was set up as Patton saved a shot, but the ball deflected and hit Ellen Fahey before Patton scooped it back up. The referee blew the whistle for a pass-back handball, giving Tennessee the free kick. The entire Gamecocks team lined the goal line with Patton in front, and after the initial touch the junior goalkeeper dove and corralled the Tennessee shot in midair for the save.
Down 1-0 at the half, the Lady Vols began to press early in the half and had a breakaway in the 50h that was thwarted when Ellen Fahey clipped the ball away inside the ’18. Five minutes later, Small gave the Gamecocks the eventual game-winning goal with a header off a pass from Grimsley for a 2-0 lead at 55:38.
Tennessee earned its goal at 69:58 when Imgram slotted her free kick on the ground and into the net. Both teams had limited opportunities in a physical final 20 minutes of the game, the first in the 75th minute when Grimsley danced around the Lady Vol defense but was knocked down inside the ’18 without a foul call to end the threat. Imgram had a chance to tie the match in the 85th with another free kick, but Kortney Rhoades blocked the attempted shot at Carolina held on for the win.
South Carolina returns home Thursday night in their final home game of the season. The Gamecocks will face Arkansas at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for a game against nationally ranked LSU on Sunday.