Oct. 25, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. – A miscue in the first minute allowed No. 14 LSU to score, and despite out-playing the Tigers in the second half with only 10 players, No. 10 South Carolina couldn’t grab the equalizer and fell 1-0 Sunday afternoon at the LSU Soccer Complex.
Broadcast nationally on ESPNU in a match between the SEC East and West division leaders, the game marks the first time this season that South Carolina (15-2-1, 7-2-1 SEC) was shutout. The Gamecocks drop to a tie for second in the SEC with LSU (11-4-3, 7-2-1 SEC) with 22 points behind Florida’s 23 points. South Carolina played the final 33 minutes of the match down a player after defender Ellen Fahey was whistled for a red card for “tripping”.
After diving to head the ball back to goalkeeper Mollie Patton, Fahey began to stand up but inadvertently tripped an LSU attacker that was running behind her. The referee signaled an immediate red card, sending the sophomore to the bench for the remainder of the regular season.
“Down a goal and down a player, you have to put forth twice the effort,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “I’m proud of the way our team continued. They had heart and courage to battle back the way they did.”
The Tigers scored the game’s only goal just 57 seconds into the match when Melissa Clarke drilled the ball into the corner of the net after the Gamecocks couldn’t clear it from sitting in front of the net. Malorie Rutledge and Carlie Banks had assists on the goal after sending the ball into the box. It was the quickest goal scored on South Carolina in over three seasons.
Trailing for only the second time this season, the Gamecocks had an early chance to score the equalizer when Kim Miller took a free kick 20 yards out in the 10th minute of play. Miller’s shot was denied by a diving save by LSU goalkeeper Mo Isom. Over the next six minutes, the Gamecocks did everything right except get a shot on goal as play revolved around the LSU penalty area relentlessly.
After finally moving the run of play to the midfield, LSU’s Courtney Alexander sent a high ball to the upper right corner of the net that required a daring save by South Carolina goalkeeper Mollie Patton to keep the deficit at one goal. Neither team had another chance at the net for the remainder of the half in an even match in all areas of the game.
The Gamecocks came out as a new team in the second half with pressure that the team applied almost the entire 45 minutes. Kayla Grimsley led things off with a breakaway in the first minute of a half that was sent out for a corner kick. She got another breakaway in the 48th minute after outrunning LSU defender Katherine Lagow, but her pass inside the penalty area was deflected to end that threat. Blakely Mattern got things going five minutes later after bringing the ball up and doing a give-and-go with Grimsley, but they weren’t able to keep the ball under control to end another threat.
Just three minutes later in the 58th minute, Fahey was cited for her red card in a move that seemed to give LSU the advantage with 11 players to Carolina’s 10, but South Carolina continued to apply the pressure throughout the match and collect corner kick opportunities.
South Carolina seemingly earned the equalizer in the 70th minute after Samantha Diaz-Matosas sent a corner kick into the box that found Lindsay Small’s head. Small pushed the header past Isom, but an LSU defender got the backline by an inch to preserve the LSU shutout.
South Carolina travels to Gainesville, Fla., for the regular season finale Friday night. The game between No. 10 South Carolina and No. 12 Florida will be for the SEC Eastern division title and will kickoff at 6 p.m. at James G. Pressley Stadium.