Oct. 12, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina held commanding advantages in shots (18-3) and corner kick (10-2) en route to a dominating 2-1 victory over visiting LSU Friday night at Stone Stadium for the Gamecocks’ second straight conference win. Sophomores Lani Smith and Christa Neary scored for South Carolina to improve the team to 5-6-4 (2-4-3 SEC) while the loss drops LSU to 6-6-4 (2-5-2 SEC).
Smith notched her second goal of the season in the 36th minute and Neary earned her first career goal in the 53rd to lead South Carolina to the victory. LSU’s Jade Kovacevic scored in the 81st by bending in her corner kick for the final tally of the game.
“I’m very proud of their effort,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “I told the team they’ve shown their growth over the past few weeks. It’s nice to be able to put some things together and get some wins the last couple of games. They really did a good job to shutout LSU for the most part. Every team in this league is very tough. Every game is a close match. Tonight we really showed what we can do and what we’re capable of.”
South Carolina improves to 9-2-5 all-time in the rivalry and are currently unbeaten in the last five matches against the Tigers. The Gamecocks have not lost at home to LSU since Carolina’s inaugural season in 1995, going unbeaten in the seven matches since at The Graveyard.
The Gamecocks made claim for the early lead with a goal in the 13th minute that was nullified due to an offsides call, the fifth such occurrence in conference play this season against the Gamecocks. Rae Wilson headed the ball to Danielle Au who knocked it into the net, but the Au was whistled for the offsides to bail the Tigers out.
It would take another 25 minutes for the Gamecocks to find the back of the net when Au and Caroline Gray combined on the assists for Smith’s goal. Playing down the right flank, Au’s ball into the area found Gray for a shot that LSU goalkeeper Megan Kinneman tipped right into the waiting foot of Smith for the tap-in. Smith, who entered the game at 34:03, scored at 35:16 to reward Coach Smith on the substitution.
“It was huge,” Smith said of her goal. “It lifted the team a lot. That’s our job as subs, to come in and lift the team. It’s what I wanted to do and I think I helped us continue forward.”
Neary nearly made it 2-0 just before the break with a header off a Romness corner kick that was saved off the line in the final 30 seconds of the half as the Gamecocks went into the break holding a 10-0 shot advantage.
The sophomore defenders would eventually link together for the second goal in the 53rd minute when Neary’s header off Romness’s corner kick sailed into the top of the goal for a ball that Kinneman couldn’t reach to make it 2-0. Smith came close to scoring her second of the night in the 70th on a strike in the box that Kinneman saved before the Tigers earned their first shot of the match in the 73rd minute. Using the attempt as motivation, LSU went on an offensive and fired off two more shots in the match with Danielle Murphy’s header in front of the net tip-saved by D’Angelo in the 81st minute leading to Kovacevic’s corner kick goal at 80:36.
“They were excellent,” Smith said of her defensive effort. “They read the plays well and were patient in their defending. They cleared their line and won 50-50 balls. They did everything we asked, and Sabrina behind was confident and aggressive. She had a great save again tonight. We just played well and made the plays we needed to.”
South Carolina hosts Tennessee Sunday at 1 p.m. in the final match of a four-game homestand.