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Oct. 25, 2013

Final Stats

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – In its best offensive output of the season, South Carolina (13-2-2, 6-2-1) struck three times in the first 15 minutes of the game en route to a 4-1 win over Vanderbilt (4-10-3, 1-7-1) on a chilly night at Stone Stadium. Freshman midfielder Chelsea Drennan set up all three of the first half goals as she tied the school record for most assists in a game. She is currently tied for the third-most assists in a season in program history, three back of Mindy Sanders’ record of 13 which was set in 1999.

It didn’t take long for the Gamecocks to strike. Drennan teed up the team’s first corner just ahead of the 90-second mark and sent a ball in that redshirt junior Taylor Leach rose up on and buried in the back of the net. It was the defender’s second goal of the season as well as her second game-winner. The goal was the fifth fastest in program history.

“That always helps,” Head Coach Shelley Smith said of the early goal. “You go into games where you’re struggling to score goals that you need and those are frustrating. I think we came off a weekend where that happened and we didn’t get the goals we wanted and had lots of chances, but didn’t put it away so it was nice to come out and put one of our first chances in the goal.”

Just under 10 minutes later, Drennan found sophomore Raina Johnson just outside the top of the box on the right side. The midfielder struck a shot to the right top corner that ended up in the hands of Vanderbilt keeper Shannon Morrish two yards after it had crossed the line.

Three minutes later it was midfielder Gabrielle Gilbert getting in on the action. The versatile senior was in the right position at the right time as Drennan slotted in a pass from the right side of the box that found her sitting inside the six-yard box where she calmly tapped it in for her first goal of the season and seventh of her career.

The shots kept coming throughout the first half as freshman Vanessa Kovar took a right-to-left rip from distance in the 27th minute that landed just wide of the far post. Six minutes later, fellow freshman Daija Griffin hit a sliding attempt from the top of the box that was deflected up and over the crossbar. Less than a minute later, senior Elizabeth Sinclair put charge into a shot from 20 yards out that screamed past the far left post. Junior defender Christa Neary closed out the first half chances for the Gamecocks as she got on the end of a corner in the 41st minute on the back post, but the ball popped off her head and over the bar.

In all South Carolina totaled 15 shots in the first 45 minutes and allowed just one as the squad held a 6-0 advantage in shots on goal going into the half. The three goals marked the first time that the Gamecocks have done that since Oct. 7, 2011 versus Alabama.

The scoring didn’t stop in the first half though as Johnson tallied her second of the match and team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 57th minute. The sophomore got the end of a low pass from the left side from senior forward Danielle Au just inside the 18-yard box where she hit a low shot to the left side past Vanderbilt keeper Olivia Liebman who entered the game in the 20th minute.

The Gamecocks were unable to keep a clean sheet though as Cheyna Williams showed in the 61st minute why she is why one of the most dangerous strikers in the country. The sophomore corralled a loose ball just beyond the half line, took the ball down the left channel before hitting a dipping shot into the right netting over junior goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo for her SEC leading 16th goal of the season.

With four more shot attempts before the final whistle was blown, South Carolina finished the game with 23 shots compared to the Commodores three and held a 9-1 edge in shots on target.

The Gamecocks will hit the road tomorrow as the travel to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State (3-13-0, 0-9-0) on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET at MSU Soccer Field.