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Sept. 19, 2010

Box Score

Coach Smith Post-Match Interview

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Freshman Danielle Au notched her third goal of the year as No. 20 South Carolina became the first team to earn a shutout victory over No. 22 Wake Forest at Spry Stadium in two years. The Gamecocks (6-2-1) earned the 1-0 shutout to defeat their first ranked team of the year in the 22nd-ranked Demon Deacons (6-3-0).

“I’m ecstatic about the performance today,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “They came out and battled. They’re a good Wake Forest team. We held them well and showed how if we have determination and work hard for each other that we can beat anyone. Today we did that. We came out strong, something we didn’t do last week against Minnesota.”

Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award candidate Mollie Patton grabbed four saves to earn her sixth shutout of the year. The shutout was the first of the year against the potent Demon Deacons offense, and the first time the Demon Deacons were shutout in a loss at Spry Stadium since Sept. 18, 2008 (Boston College, 1-0). With 28 career solo shutouts, Patton is now five shy of tying the SEC all-time record that has held for six years.

“Mollie was a difference today,” Smith said. “She was authoritative in the back. She wanted the ball and swept for us. If she was called on to make a save, she made the save. We’re rally happy with what she did today and how the whole team stepped up going into conference play this week.”

Au scored her third goal of the year at the 19:56 mark courtesy of an assist by Maria Petroni. Au struck from nearly 30 yards out after Petroni played the ball back to her from the top of the ’18.

“Danielle is a difference,” Smith said. “For her to come in and score again for us, to take the shot and put it on her shoulders says a lot. I’m happy for her and for her to finish. That was a great strike. She’s not afraid to use her left foot when given the opportunity and it paid off. It takes a good shot like that to beat a good team and a good goalkeeper at Wake. She’s creating opportunities, and obviously Kayla (Grimsley’s) doing a good job to create space and Danielle’s taking advantage of that space.”

In a rematch of sorts from last year’s NCAA Round of 16 match between the two teams in Columbia, the first half was a midfield game with both teams earning their runs but the rest of possession played around the center of the pitch. Wake Forest held a 6-4 shot advantage and 2-1 corner kick advantage after the first 45 minutes of the game, but the Gamecocks made their opportunities count.

After struggling earlier in the season with many opportunities but limited finishes, Carolina almost put two in the back of the net on two consecutive shots in the opening 21 minutes of the game. After Au’s goal in the 20th minute, she then setup another Carolina opportunity less than a minute later by drawing a foul in the penalty area to give Carolina its first penalty kick of the season. Brittiny Rhoades lined up for the attempt but sailed the shot high to keep the advantage a slim 1-0 South Carolina lead.

South Carolina also had two strong looks in the opening stanza with Petroni barely missing a header off a Rhoades free kick. Kayla Grimsley and Petroni broke together on a 2v3 in the 23rd minute that looked promising before a thru ball was thwarted to end the threat.

The Gamecock stayed heavy on the attack in the middle of the second half despite not getting off a credited shot in the half. The Demon Deacons then began to take advantage in the final six minutes, keeping the Gamecocks on their toes while accumulating a 7-0 shot advantage overall in the second half. The Demon Deacons had two shots in front of Patton in the final three minutes that sailed high courtesy of pressure by Rhoades on the backline.

“It was a great game,” Smith said. “It came down to the final seconds where they had a close opportunity. It’s a battle between two good teams, and we’re fortunate to come out with a win. (The win’s) because of the work ethic that went out on the field today by all the players that were in the game.”

South Carolina travels to Vanderbilt and Kentucky next weekend for the SEC opening weekend. The Gamecocks will take on the Commodores Friday night before playing the Wildcats on Sunday afternoon.