Sept. 29, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (9-1-1, 2-1-0) wrapped up the weekend with its second win of the Southeastern Conference season as the team dominated the possession battle in 1-0 match against Arkansas (8-3-0, 1-2-0) this afternoon at Stone Stadium.
“We knew that we needed to play our game and not our opponents game; keeping the ball, a lot of possession, and create chances,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “I thought we did really well Friday night to be more offensive than we had been in the past few games and we were hoping to do that today. It was a difficult game, Sundays always are, but I thought we handled the Sunday game well.”
The Gamecocks came out looking to play the possession game, picking their spots as Arkansas was content to sit back and absorb pressure throughout. Carolina had a pair of early opportunities early from strikers Danielle Au and Sophie Groff, but each had their attempts blocked.
The Garnet and Black’s persistence paid off in the 20th minute as Raina Johnson scored her fourth goal of the season to break the deadlock. Sophomore defender Caroline Gray raced up the flank, tapped the ball to freshman midfielder Chelsea Drennan before receiving the ball back in the corner. Gray hit a quick rising cross that Arkansas keeper Cameron Carter was unable to get a hand on before it dropped to back post where Johnson crashed in and got a header off with a pair of Razorback defenders right with her.
In the 34th minute, Au went 1-on-1 on at the edge of the 18-yard box with an Arkansas defender and created enough space to get a hard shot off, but it sailed just over the crossbar. Three minutes later, redshirt senior Rae Wilson got on the end of a low cross from six yards out, but the striker’s volley attempt was snared by Carter.
The Razorbacks saw their best opportunity of the match come in the 59th minute after a short clearance from the Gamecocks. Arkansas was able to send a high ball back over the top that dropped to the feet of Allie Tripp eight yards in front of the net, just as Carolina was trying to push forward. Tripp though was unable to muster a clean shot on goal and the attempt was easily grabbed by junior keeper Sabrina D’Angelo.
Au had another chance to double the lead in the 64th minute as Chelsea Drennan sent a corner into redshirt junior Taylor Leach at the penalty spot, but the defender’s sliding effort drifted off to Au on the left side. The striker hit a hard strike back toward goal, but her game-high fourth shot sailed over the bar.
With the Gamecocks still applying pressure, senior midfielder Elizabeth Sinclair sent a diagonal pass to sophomore Stevi Parker on the left flank in the 71st minute. The midfielder hit a hard cross to right side where fellow sophomore Bay Daniel was waiting just outside the six. The forward struck a hard header back across goal, but Carter quickly reacted to her right to pull the ball out of the air.
In controlling fashion, Carolina managed to hold a 12-7 shot edge, but allowed just one shot on goal compared to its five, while also managing a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks. With her eighth shutout of the season, and 15th of her career, D’Angelo moved into a three-way tie for the second-most shutouts in program history alongside with Laura Armstrong and Elise Matthews.
The Gamecocks will carry their two-match win streak into Gainesville, Fla., next weekend as they travel to No. 7 Florida for a 7 p.m., ET showdown on Oct. 4.
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).