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Oct. 27, 2013

Final Stats

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STARKVILLE, Miss. – On a day when chances were abundant for No. 13 South Carolina (14-2-2, 7-2-1), it was freshman Sophie Groff who scored the game’s only goal in the 71st minute to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 win against Mississippi State (3-14-0, 0-10-0) this afternoon at MSU Soccer Field.

The Gamecocks opened up the game controlling and dictating the pace and earning a pair of corners in the early stages of the match with their pressure. On their third corner of the game in the 16th minute, freshman Chelsea Drennan served in a ball to the far post that senior midfielder Gabrielle Gilbert put her head onto, but the attempt was just wide of the left post.

Five minutes later, sophomore midfielder Raina Johnson created spaced just inside the 18 and ripped a shot toward the left side, but Mississippi State keeper C.J. Winship laid out to make a diving stop and tip the ball out of across the end line.

The pressure from the Gamecocks continued as left back Caroline Gray struck a shot from the top of the 18 that drifted just wide of the left post in the 25th minute. Four minutes later, Christine Watts sent a dangerous ball into the box that Drennan ran onto and stuck with her head but the attempt was wide of the mark.

South Carolina nearly grabbed the lead as sophomore Carly Ray served a long throw-in into the box that was flicked on toward the goal. Sophomore Coryn Bajema and freshman Daija Griffin were in the vicinity, but the bouncing ball was corralled by Winship on her goal line.

After 45 minutes the Gamecocks held an advantage in all categories, with an 8-3 edge in shots, 3-0 in shots on goal, while earning six corners compared to the Bulldogs’ one.

Mississippi State had a chance early in the half to grab the lead with a dangerous ball that came across the face of goal after a clearance attempt was blocked by a Bulldog attacker, but the ball harmlessly went up and over the crossbar.

The Gamecocks nearly stuck in the 61st minute as Danielle Au hit a low attempt from 25 yards out that Winship went down to her left to make the stop. Unable to wrap up the ball it rolled toward the end line where Johnson raced onto it and put a shot on goal, but Winship quickly got back up and made the stop next to the right post.

The Garnet and Black broke through as a ball was blocked outside the Bulldogs’ box in the 71st minute. It fell to Bajema just inside the 18 where she quickly slotted a short pass forward to Groff. The striker calmly hit a right-footed shot inside the right post as Winship came sliding out. It was the second goal of her career and second game-winner.

The pressure didn’t slow up as minutes later a long pass from the back was forwarded onto Groff from Griffin. The striker’s shot from 16 yards out was just wide of the post as Winship was coming out.

Carolina totaled a 15-6 shot advantage on the day, putting six on target compared to the Bulldogs’ two, while also holding an 8-1 shot edge.

The Gamecocks return to Stone Stadium on Thursday night as they host Kentucky at 7 p.m. ET on senior night. Prior to the match, Danielle Au, Gabrielle Gilbert, Samantha Gonzalez, Sam McGowan, Abby Sams, Elizabeth Sinclair, Christine Watts and Rae Wilson will be honored.