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Nov. 22, 2014

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 18 South Carolina (13-5-5) meets No. 6 North Carolina (14-3-2) in the NCAA Round of 16 on Sunday at 1 p.m. at UNC’s Fetzer Field. The Gamecocks have yet to score a goal in the NCAA Tournament, but have advanced on penalty kicks in their last two contests. The Tar Heels moved on to the Sweet 16 with a 1-0 overtime win over Colorado. The University of North Carolina’s GoHeels TV will provide a live stream of the match.

Date/Opponent: Sun., Nov. 23, vs. No. 6 North Carolina
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
Stadium: Fetzer Field
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

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As a No. 2 seed, the University of North Carolina (14-3-2) earned the right host the second weekend of the tournament after taking down South Dakota State, 2-0, in the first round. The No. 6 Tar Heels, co-regular season champions of the ACC, went to overtime to take down Colorado, 1-0, on Friday night. Maya Worth scored her first career goal in the 95th minute to end the match. The Tar Heels outshot the Buffaloes 22-2.

Four Tar Heels have scored double-digit points. Emily Bruder and Paige Nielson have posted five goals apiece to lead the team while Joanna Boyles has doled out a team-leading eight assists to go along with three goals. She tops the squad with 14 points. Seventeen of North Carolina’s 31 goals have been tallied by players who did not start games, including 11 of the last 13 after Worth’s goal on Friday.

In the goal, Bryane Haeberline and Lindsey Harris have split time nearly equally. Haeberlin has played in all 19 matches, starting 13 and logging 955 minutes. She’s allowed nine goals. Harris has started six of the 17 games she’s made an appearance in this season, seeing just five goals scored on her in 836 minutes. The pair split time in Friday’s match with Haberline playing the first half and Harris coming in to finish the match off.

The Gamecocks and Tar Heels have met just twice, splitting the pair of matches. In 2000, North Carolina routed the Gamecocks 9-1 at Fetzer Field in the first meeting between the programs. Seven years later, South Carolina leveled the series with a 1-0 season-opening win in Chapel Hill. At the time, the Tar Heels were the nation’s top-ranked team and were riding a 27-game winning streak. The result was the first in a season-opener in the 29-year history of the Tar Heel dynasty. The decision was also the Gamecocks’ only win over the No. 1 team in the country and was South Carolina’s first win against a team in the top five. The Tar Heels dominated the stat sheet outshooting the Gamecocks 12-3 and taking the corner kick battle 13-0. South Carolina’s Erin Sullivan snuck in a header in the 16th minute that stood up to be the gamewinner.

On Sunday, South Carolina will face an uphill battle when it takes the field without either of its senior team captains Sabrina D’Angelo and Taylor Leach in their regular roles. The All-American goalkeeper D’Angelo is not able to play in goal after suffering an arm injury in training this week, but is an available as a field player. Leach picked up two yellow cards, one coming in the final minute of regulation, against Seattle on Friday. The cautions meant a red card and the centerback will have to sit Sunday’s contest. The pair has earned First-Team All-SEC honors the last two seasons.

When All-American goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo went down with an injury in training before the weekend, Abbey Crider earned her first career start. Logging just 56 minutes this season with all-everything D’Angelo firmly entrenched in front of her, Crider had some big shoes to fill. She rose to the occasion, notching her first career shutout in the double-overtime result vs. Seattle Friday and making two monster saves in the penalty shootout to help the Gamecocks advance.

Somehow, the Gamecocks have earned a spot in the Round of 16 without scoring a goal. The South Carolina offense has been shutout in three straight games, unable to find the back of the net in nearly 343 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. Against Clemson just over a week ago, South Carolina did not manage a shot on goal in 110 minutes of play. In the second round, South Carolina put eight of its 15 shots on frame before again needing PKs to advance. 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.

In the second round, the Gamecocks yet again played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer and went to a shootout for the second time in as many games. South Carolina was forced to play a man down for the entirety of overtime after Taylor Leach picked up her second yellow of the match in the 90th minute. The Gamecocks stayed with the same penalty kick order as last week’s shootout against Clemson, but the story was not the same. Down 0-1 after the first two rounds, Abbey Crider made a diving save to her right and Lindsey Lane converted to level the contest. Seattle’s Kiana Kraft clanked her opportunity off the left post and the Redhawk keeper Brianna Smallidge saved Bay Daniel’s shot to keep the score 1-all after four rounds. Crider made a spectacular save to her right on Stephanie Spiekerman’s chance and put the game on Chelsea Drennan’s foot. The Gamecocks clinched last week’s PKs before Drennan had the opportunity to shoot. This week she calmly stepped up to the spot and powered a kick low and left to advance South Carolina to the Round of 16.

After back-to-back shootouts, South Carolina has gone to penalty kicks just seven times in program history, advancing on five occasions. In the NCAA Tournament, the Gamecocks are 2-1 in PKs after dispatching Clemson in the first round and Seattle in the second.

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.

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.

After back-to-back draws, the Gamecocks are 5-6-3 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.