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Nov. 20, 2014

No. 18 South Carolina (13-5-4) travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on Seattle (15-4-2) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The first-ever meeting between the sides is set to kick at 4 p.m. on Friday at the University of North Carolina’s Fetzer Field. The winner will take on the winner of No. 6 North Carolina vs. Colorado at Fetzer Field at 1 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 23, in the Round of 16. ESPN3 will have the broadcast of this weekend’s contests.

Date/Opponent: Fri., Nov. 21, vs. Seattle
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Stadium: Fetzer Field
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Fielding one of the most potent offenses in the country, Seattle enters the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 15-4-2 record. The Redhawks rank third in the nation with 68 goals this season, an average of 3.24 per game. Senior Stephanie Verdoia leads Seattle with 22 goals (2nd nationally) and 13 assists (9th nationally) this season. Verdoia and Gamecock keeper Sabrina D’Angelo are two of 10 finalists for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award. Taylor Ritzman and Natasha Howe have also reached double-digits in goals scored with 11 and 10, respectively. In their final four matches heading into the NCAA Tournament (two regular season, two WAC tournament), Seattle outscored its opponents 25-0 with four straight shutouts, recording shutouts in five of their last six contests before the postseason. Netminder Brianna Smallidge has started all but one match this season, posting a goals against average of 0.91, allowing 18 goals in 21 contests while grabbing 68 saves.

Seattle earned the WAC automatic bid for the second straight season by capturing the conference tournament crown after earning the regular season title with an 8-1-1 mark. The Redhawks took a 2-1 double overtime victory to post their first NCAA Tournament win in program history and move on to the Round of 32 for the first time ever.

Last Friday, South Carolina and rival Clemson met for the first time ever in the postseason and delivered the drama. After playing 110 minutes with just one shot on goal between them, the teams went on to penalty kicks. A pair of all-conference first teamers in Gamecock keeper Sabrina D’Angelo and her Canadian compatriot Kailen Sheridan of Clemson, took the line for a shootout. Tied at 2-2 after two rounds, D’Angelo went diving to her right and saved Claire Wagner’s attempt. Lindsey Lane consolidated the save with her make to put South Carolina up 3-2. Tiger Jenna Weston and Gamecock Bay Daniel were true in the fourth round to make the score 4-3. Needing a make to stay in the shootout, Gabby Byorth sent the ball right, but D’Angelo read it perfectly tipping it away to advance South Carolina to the second round and avenge an 0-1 regular-season loss.

South Carolina has gone to penalty kicks just six times in program history, advancing on four occasions. In the NCAA Tournament, the Gamecocks are 1-1 in PKs after dispatching Clemson on Friday for their first NCAA shootout win in two tries.

Shelley Smith and her team are pleased with the relatively short travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., after long hauls in their previous two NCAA Tournaments. After hosting first round matches in 2011 and 2013, the Gamecocks had to fly across the country for NCAA Second Round matchups. South Carolina played Stanford both years, facing them on their home field in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2011 and in Los Angeles, Calif., at UCLA in 2013. The Cardinal ended the Gamecocks’ season in both meetings.

As the No. 2 seed, the University of North Carolina (13-3-2) earned the right host the second and third round matches after taking down South Dakota State, 2-0, in the first round. The No. 6 Tar Heels, co-regular season champions of the ACC, will face Colorado (14-6-1) after the conclusion of Gamecocks and Redhawks. Fresh off a program-best third-place finish in the Pac-12, the Buffaloes secured a 2-0 victory over No. 15 BYU in snowy conditions in Boulder, Colo., to advance. The winners of Friday’s matches will meet in the Round of 16 at 1 p.m. on Sun. Nov. 23, at Fetzer Field.

The Gamecocks cleaned up in Friday’s shootout by converting all four opportunities, but in regulation, the South Carolina offense has been shutout in back-to-back games, unable to find the back of the net in nearly 230 minutes. In the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Nov. 5, Stevi Parker and Sophie Groff scored in the 2-1 win over Missouri. Since, the Gamecocks faced Texas A&M in the semifinals and despite outshooting the Aggies 10-8, South Carolina couldn’t find the back of the net. Texas A&M broke the shutout in the 87th minute to get a 1-0 win. Friday, South Carolina did not manage a shot on goal in 110 minutes of play. In September, the Gamecocks went just over 200 minutes without a goal after Missouri and then No. 22 Georgia shut them out in back-to-back conference games.

After last week’s tie with Clemson, the Gamecocks are 5-6-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, South Carolina picked up a 5-0 win over Furman first round action. Prior to last fall, the Gamecocks’ last NCAA Tournament win came in 2011, with a 1-0 win over Texas. South Carolina saw its deepest run in 2009 when the team reached the Round of 16, where the team fell to Wake Forest, 1-0, in the final seconds of regulation at Stone Stadium. At home, the Gamecocks are 4-1-1 in the NCAA Tournament.