Aug. 13, 2016
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Seniors Sophie Groff and Kaleigh Kurtz both registered goals to push No. 24 South Carolina past High Point, 2-0, in its lone exhibition match of the season on Saturday. The contest at Vert Stadium served as a final tuneup for the Gamecocks, who open the season on Fri., Aug. 19 at Oklahoma.
Groff opened the scoring in the 25th minute after a defensive miscue by High Point left the forward with the ball and an open net. Attacker Savannah McCaskill took advantage of a poor clearance, forcing a battle for the ball between the junior and Panthers’ goalkeeper Alex Hank. The collision between the two left the ball for Groff, who calmly found the back of the net from just outside the top of the box.
The Gamecocks pushed their advantage to 2-0 in the 69th minute following a corner kick. Drennan’s service into the box found the head of Kurtz, whose shot was knocked away by High Point keeper Emily Lyon. Kurtz stuck with it, gathering the rebound before eventually scoring with Lyon off her line.
South Carolina produced all of the match’s scoring opportunities in the first half, boasting a 7-0 shot advantage through 45 minutes. In the 10th minute, McCaskill found herself all alone with Hank before her shot into the bottom left corner was turned away. Two minutes later, a deflection in the box left Drennan with the ball and a chance from point blank range. A diving save by Hank foiled the scoring opportunity, and the danger was cleared. Junior left back Anna Conklin nearly made it 2-0 towards the end of the first half, sending a shot off the crossbar from the top left corner of the box. Five of South Carolina’s seven shots in the first period were on target.
The Gamecocks continued to pressure the High Point back line throughout the remainder of the match, and they ended the contest with two breakaway chances. With less than 10 minutes remaining, redshirt senior Bay Daniel broke away from the defense and rifled a shot that called for a good save by Lyon. Minutes later, it was senior forward Daija Griffin with the scoring opportunity. She charged into the box, slipping a shot that sent the ball past Lyon and just left of the net.
South Carolina finished the match with seven corner kicks and a 17-6 shot advantage. Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski started the game and earned the win in her debut. Redshirt keeper Hunter Peifer took over in net after halftime and tallied one save in 45 minutes of work. Drennan, McCaskill and sophomore forward Simone Wark each led the Gamecocks with two shots on goal.
After multiple scoring chances in the early going, the Gamecocks broke through with Groff’s goal in the 25th minute. The senior forward ranked second on the team with six goals last season.
South Carolina allowed just one shot on goal in Saturday’s contest. Nine of the Gamecocks’ 17 shot attempts against High Point were put on frame.
- Seven players made their debut for the Gamecocks in Saturday’s match against High Point. Two newcomers, Tatumn Milazzo and Elexa Bahr, finished the game with a shot.
- High Point’s Becca Rolfe was the only Panther’s player to record multiple shots. She finished the game with three attempts.
- South Carolina has earned clean sheets in three of its last four exhibition matches dating back to the 2013 season. Each of the three shutouts have come on the road.
South Carolina’s season opener against Oklahoma next Friday (Aug. 19) kicks off at 8 p.m. ET. The Gamecocks defeated the Sooners, 2-1, in overtime last season in the first meeting between the two.