Oct. 11, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. – It wasn’t going to come easy, but South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith earned her 150th win as the Gamecocks coach tonight in dramatic fashion as senior striker Danielle Au capped off a come-from-behind win with the game-winner in the 86th minute to top Alabama 2-1 at Stone Stadium.
For the senior, it was the 10th game-winner of her career, moving her into third place all-time at Carolina. Freshman midfielder Chelsea Drennan had the assist on the goal to record her seventh of the season, breaking Kayla Grimsley and Jennie Ondo freshman record.
“Stevi’s been tremendous for us all year, runs out of midfield, she’s very opportunistic when she gets a opportunity up top. Danielle, she’s been knocking at the door and not getting frustrated and keeping at it, and she scored a great goal tonight and she deserved that,” said Smith of her goal scorers.
South Carolina (12-1-1, 5-1-0) jumped on Alabama (5-8-0, 3-3-0) from the first whistle, putting them on their heels time and time again as they had an 11-shot advantage (17-6) in the game. In the first minute, a ball into the box was headed down to Au who drilled a volley just wide of the right post from inside in the six-yard box. Five minutes later, it was Au sending a ball into the box where it was flicked by senior Gabrielle Gilbert. The ball though was deflected and fell to sophomore Stevi Parker at the six, but the midfielder’s shot screamed over the crossbar.
Alabama capitalized in the 24th minute on the early missed opportunities by the Gamecocks. Crimson Tide forward Pia Rijsdijk struck a shot from 16 yards out that was aimed at the far post but it ricocheted off a South Carolina defender and caromed into the net inside the left post as junior goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was unable to make an attempt for it.
Carolina though didn’t let up on the pressure as freshman midfielder Chelsea Drennan sent a long shot in from 22 yards out to force Alabama keeper Emily Rusk to make a save. Five minutes later, it was junior defender Christa Neary hitting a rocket from outside the 18 that was headed for the top right corner before Rusk was able to get a glove on it to knock it out across the endline.
Off of the corner, freshman forward Daija Griffin had the ball drop to her at the six on the near post with Rusk out of position. The Crimson Tide though had two defenders on the line to block the shot out of play. On the ensuing corner Neary put a header just over the bar.
In the 36th minute, Au again created a little room and fired an attempt off but it rose just outside the left upper 90. With less than two minutes left in the half, Parker again got a shot off from short range looking for the equalizer, but it was lifted over the bar.
Trailing 1-0 at the half for only the second time this season, yet holding an 11-4 shot advantage, optimism was still high for Gamecocks.
South Carolina continued to maintain possession and play at its pace in the second half. Just before the 60-minute mark in the match, Neary sent a lofted ball from midfield to Parker at the top of the box. The sophomore brought the ball down, created a small window and slipped the ball past an on-coming Rusk to equalize the game.
As the game wore on, it looked more and more like the Gamecocks would be headed to extra time for the third-straight game, but in the 86th minute it was Drennan slipping a through ball into Au at the top of the box. The senior calmly dribbled to her right as Rusk was coming out toward her. As she got separation from the keeper, she ripped a shot into the top of the net for her team-leading fifth goal of the season and third game-winning goal of the year.
The Gamecocks will take their season-best five game winning streak on the road next week as they travel to Missouri to take on the Tigers on Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. ET.