Oct. 28, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women’s soccer team closes out regular season action on Thurs., Oct. 29 at home vs. Tennessee with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium. The contest will be streamed on SEC Network Plus.
South Carolina will honor the 2015 Senior Class before Thursday’s contest. The Gamecocks will recognize eight players: Coryn Bajema, Emily Ball, Emily Bollinger, Caroline Gray, Raina Johnson, Caroline Kelly, Stevi Parker and Carly Ray.
Playing For A Crowd
Through nine games at Stone Stadium, the Gamecocks rank third in the nation in home attendance with 26,512 total fans. South Carolina’s average of 2,946 fans per contest ranks third as well. The Gamecocks sold 1,000 season tickets for the first time in program history. (Men and women’s soccer season tickets are sold together as one ticket).
A Lot Up In The Air
South Carolina sits in sixth place overall in the SEC heading into the final regular season game before next week’s SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. The Gamecocks have 17 points, one shy of Auburn and Texas A&M for a tie for fourth overall. The Gamecocks have clinched a bye into the second round and can be seeded no worse than sixth in the league. The second round begins Wednesday, November 4. If the Gamecocks remain at No. 6, they will play the second match of the day vs. the No. 3 seed. Carolina can also move into the No. 4 or No. 5 spot. That is the final match of the second round.
Offense on Fire
Through 15 games this season South Carolina has scored 38 goals compared to last year’s squad that netted 32 all season. The Gamecocks have had 15 different goal scorers.
In the Rankings
The Gamecocks are No. 17 in the latest NSCAA poll, No. 23 in the TopDrawerSocccer.com ranking. and No. 25 by Soccer America. South Carolina is No. 30 in the latest RPI released by the NCAA.
By The Numbers
South Carolina holds a 262-128 shot advantage over opponents through 17 games. The Gamecocks have put 129 of 262 shots on target, compared to opponents tallying 53 shots on goal. South Carolina averages 15.4 shots per game and is outscoring opponents 38-18 on the year. Averaging 2.24 goals per contest, the Gamecocks are tied for the 21st highest scoring offense in the country with 108 points and 38 goals tie 22nd and 23rd, respectively.
South Carolina ranks high and among the best in the SEC in several key offensive and defensive categories. The Gamecocks are second in assists per game with 2.12 per contest and third in the league averaging 2.24 goals per contest. South Carolina ranks fifth in goals against average at 1.02 and fifth in fewest goals allowed with only 18 yielded this season.
In SEC contests the Gamecocks are second in fewest goals allowed with 11 and boast the third lowest goals against average with a 1.05 mark. The Gamecocks are one of only five teams to record three or more shutouts against league opponents.
The Gamecocks tied LSU in a 1-1 decision last Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge. Sunday’s match was moved to an adjacent soccer practice field due to inclement weather, and the contest was called after 90 minutes as a result of the poor field conditions.
Senior forward Raina Johnson tallied her sixth goal of the season as she put the Gamecocks on the board in the fourth minute after scoring off a rebound in the box. Her six goals in 2015 are tied with junior Sophie Groff for second-most among Carolina players. The Tigers evened the match in the 25th minute. Both teams would not be able to find the back of the net the rest of the way. Senior goalkeeper Caroline Kelly tallied two saves in the draw.
Tennessee is 7-4-6 on the year and 3-4-3 in the league. The Volunteers tied Kentucky 1-1 last weekend and fell 2-0 to No. 13 Ole Miss in Knoxville. Junior forward Anna McClung leads the Vols with five goals and 13 points. Freshman Anna Bialczak has three goals and 12 points with junior Amy Neal with five goals and 11 points also. Senior goalkeeper Julie Eckel has started all 17 games and leads the SEC with eight shutouts and a .843 save percentages as well as the second-best goals against average at 0.77.
Tennessee is in a four-way tie for eighth place coming into the match. The top 10 teams in the SEC qualify for the SEC Tournament.
Tennessee leads the all-time series history 12-6-2 although the Gamecocks are 6-1 in the last seven matches between the two schools. The Gamecocks and Vols did not meet last year and have not played since Oct. 6, 2013, a 1-0 Carolina win in overtime in Knoxville.
McCaskill In The Lead
Forward Savannah McCaskill leads South Carolina in goals (10), points (26), shots (42), and shots on goal (24). The sophomore has also tallied six assists, the second most on the team. She is tied for sixth in the SEC in goals and is tied for fifth in points. McCaskill, who was named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2014, has nearly doubled her scoring output of five goals from her rookie campaign. Against conference opponents, her 11 points ties for sixth best and she is tied for eighth with four goals. She has tallied three assists against SEC opponents, which tie for ninth in the league.
Assisted By Drennan
Junior midfielder Chelsea Drennan has recorded a team-high eight assists. Her 27 career assists rank second all-time in school history and she just six shy of the school record (33). Drennan’s eight assists ranks second in the league and tie for 22nd in the nation. She has tallied three assists against conference opponents, which tie for third in the league.
Johnson Wins The Game
Senior forward Raina Johnson netted the game-winner in South Carolina’s matches against Texas A&M and Alabama. Johnson scored in the 89th minute to break a 1-1 tie in the Gamecocks’ 2-1 victory over the Aggies and opened scoring in the sixth minute in a 3-0 win over the Crimson Tide. In league contests, she is tied for fourth with 11 points and four goals. She has tallied three assists against SEC opponents, which tie for ninth in the conference.
Two For Groff
Junior forward Sophie Groff scored a pair of goals in two games this season (Coastal Carolina and Kennesaw State), including a game-winner in both contests. Groff also scored in the Gamecocks 3-0 win over Alabama. Her six goals s rank 10th in the SEC. Groff is likely to miss the remainder of the 2015 season with a partial ACL tear to her right knee.
Rookies Are Rolling
Newcomers Carrie Lawrence, Courtney Kaplan and Simone Wark have found the back of the net early in their freshman campaigns, each tallying at least one goal this season. Wark scored the game-winner in the Gamecocks’ 1-0 win at Missouri and earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for her efforts. She also netted the equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Arkansas.
Room For Two
Senior Caroline Kelly and sophomore Abbey Crider have split time in the net this season. Crider is 6-1-0 on the year with three shutouts. She has made 13 saves and has a goals against average of 0.80. Crider earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors for her performance against Texas A&M and Alabama. Kelly is 5-2-1 on the year with one shutout. She has made 15 saves and has a goals against average of 1.13. In SEC contests, Crider leads the league with a goals against average of 0.75 while Kelly ranks seventh (1.18). Crider’s two shutouts against conference opponents tie for fifth.
Home Field Advantage
The Gamecocks won eight-straight matches and are 9-1-0 at Stone Stadium in 2015. South Carolina posted an 8-3-1 record at “The Graveyard” last season and in 2013 the Gamecocks streaked to a perfect 11-0-0 record at home, the first in program history.
It’s A First
The Fast Lane
Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Lane netted the game winner in the Gamecocks’ double overtime victory over Oklahoma. Three of Lane’s four career goals have been game- winners.
Gray For The Win
Senior defender Caroline Gray secured South Carolina’s win in the season opener, scoring her first career goal against Northeastern.
The Gamecocks head to Orange Beach, Ala. for the 2015 SEC Tournament. The tournament begins on November 2 and runs through November 8.