Sept. 27, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (8-1-1, 1-1-0) picked up its first conference win of the season tonight, defeating Auburn (4-5-1, 0-2-0), 2-1, in the team’s SEC home opener in front of 1,778 fans, the largest crowd of the 2013 season at Stone Stadium.
“When you’re at home, you have to take advantage of that,” South Carolina head Coach Shelley Smith said. “You have to try to get all of the points you can to make the postseason so that was huge. It’s a tough road; you always expect good competition. Auburn is a good team. I thought we did really well to get the win.”
The Gamecocks came out flying early as a quick corner in the 2nd minute from freshman midfielder Chelsea Drennan found the head of defender Taylor Leach. The redshirt junior rose up over her marker and put a powerful header on target, forcing Auburn goalkeeper Alicen Wright to come up with a big stop early in the match.
Just under six minutes later though, senior striker Danielle Au found the back of the net for the Garnet and Black. Standing 30 yards out, Drennan slotted a ball to right channel to Au who calmly got space from a Tiger defender and drilled a shot to the left side out of Wright’s reach.
The pressure from the home side continued throughout the first half as the Gamecocks were continuously earning corner and corner to the tune of seven throughout the first 45 minutes.
One shot after another came from Carolina, but time and time again, either Wright or the Tiger defense were able to get into position to keep the score at 1-0 going into the half.
Auburn nearly leveled the game in the 51st minute as striker Cassie Ramsier forced Gamecock junior keeper Sabrina D’Angelo to come up with a crucial game-saving stop. Tiger forward Chelsea Gandy-Comer took a shot from the penalty mark that was deflected to the left side to Ramsier who hit a low shot to the right side. D’Angelo laid-out and got her fingertips on the ball as it had eyes for the far post. The junior quickly got back up and corralled the loose ball before a Tiger in the area could pounce on the rebound.
In the 63rd minute, great one-two play from Au and midfielder Stevi Parker just outside the Tiger box got the sophomore free, but her attempt sailed high over the bar. Parker quickly put the play behind her as minutes later she doubled Gamecocks lead.
Standing just on Auburn’s side of the field, junior defender Andie Romness sent a seemingly harmless rolling ball deep into the Tiger end, but it slipped through their backline. Parker alertly reacted to the ball and ran onto before quickly striking a low liner to the left side of the goal past Wright.
In the 79th minute, senior midfielder Gabrielle Gilbert had a brief chance to extend the Gamecock lead as a ball fell to her just inside the six-yard box. A hard shot ensued but a Tiger defender was able to get there just in time to block it out across the end line.
Shots kept coming in the final 10 minutes from Carolina, but none were able to find the back of the net. Auburn capitalized late and was able to cut the lead in half with just under two minutes remaining. Midfielder Samantha Solaru got to the end line and whipped a cross into Ramsier. The forward got her head onto the ball and popped it up into the air. D’Angelo faded back, but the ball was able to drop down under the bar and over her glove.
Despite the goal, Carolina was able to dig down and keep the ball out of their end and hold on for its eighth win of the season and sixth at home. The Gamecocks held a 16-11 advantage in shots, while putting seven on frame. Au led the team with four shots, while D’Angelo produced a trio of saves.
The Gamecocks will be back at Stone Stadium Sunday afternoon as they host Arkansas (8-2-0, 1-1-0) at 1 p.m.
Season tickets for women’s soccer, which includes admission to all home games, are currently on sale in the Gamecock Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online at GamecocksOnline.com, or by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS. Cost for season tickets for women’s soccer is $25 for adults and $10 for youth (17 and under).