Aug. 19, 2016
NORMAN, Okla. – No. 24 South Carolina played to a 1-1 draw in its season opener at the Nike Sooner Classic against Oklahoma on Friday night at John Crain Field. Senior Paige Bendell provided the scoring for the Gamecocks, who extended their unbeaten streak in season openers to 10 matches.
After a series of scoring opportunities set up by junior forward Savannah McCaskill, the Gamecocks finally broke through when they were awarded a corner kick in the 19th minute. Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan’s service in located Bendell at the far post, and the center back used her head to tuck the ball just under the crossbar and put South Carolina in front. The goal resulted in the 30th career assist for Drennan, who now sits three away from the program record.
The Sooners equalized in the 70th minute following a tussle in the box. The skirmish left the ball for Rachel Ressler, and the defender flicked a shot on that sent the ball past the leg of South Carolina left back Anna Conklin and into the net.
McCaskill sparked the Carolina attack in the early going, creating several scoring chances. In the seventh minute, the junior spun away from a defender and charged into the attacking third. She laid off a pass to fellow forward Bay Daniel near the left side of the box, but the redshirt senior’s shot was saved. McCaskill delivered another dangerous pass in the box in the 19th minute when she sent the ball directly in front of net. Her cross couldn’t connect with the Gamecock attack and the danger was cleared.
South Carolina continued to produce scoring chances off of set pieces, starting in the 63rd minute. Drennan’s corner kick into the box found the head of defender Kaleigh Kurtz, whose shot created a rebound in the box. The ball fell to Daniel, and the forward’s shot on net that was blocked by Ressler. In the 81st minute, Daniel saw another chance at goal following a corner. Her attempt forced a good save from Oklahoma keeper Kassidie Stade, who punched the ball out of danger.
Daniel had one final chance at a game-winner in regulation when Drennan’s shot led to another rebound inside the box. She charged to the loose ball, and her shot was deflected away at the last second. South Carolina boasted a 19-12 shot advantage in regulation and put nine shots on goal through the first 90 minutes.
Neither team produced a serious scoring chance in overtime, and a pair of crosses from McCaskill at the end of the first extra time period served as one of Carolina’s better opportunities in the final 20 minutes. The Gamecocks attempted 10 corner kicks compared to just two for Oklahoma, which fell to South Carolina in overtime last season. Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski totaled eight saves in her debut, while the Gamecocks ended the match with a 24-13 shot advantage overall.
Another rebound in the box left redshirt senior Bay Daniel with a great shot at goal in the 83rd minute. The forward raced to the loose ball before her attempt on net was deflected away out of bounds. The play marked one of four scoring opportunities for the Gamecocks down the stretch.
South Carolina boasted a majority of the set pieces on Friday. The Gamecocks finished the match with a 10-2 advantage in corner kicks.
- Senior Center back Paige Bendell’s goal in the 19th minute marked her third career score. It was her first goal since 2014.
- Both all-time matches between the Gamecocks and Sooners have gone into overtime. South Carolina remained unbeaten against Oklahoma following Friday’s result.
- Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan has tallied an assist in each of South Carolina’s season openers throughout her career. She sports six total assists in season openers.
South Carolina continues play at the Nike Sooner Classic on Sunday against Tulsa, which also earned a draw on Friday. Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Golden Hurricane is set for 1 p.m. ET.