Aug. 28, 2016
ORLANDO, Fla. — Sophomore forward Simone Wark netted the game winner in the 83rd minute to push South Carolina women’s soccer past UCF, 2-1, Sunday night at UCF Soccer Complex. With the victory, the Gamecocks (3-0-1) extended their winning streak to three games and remained unbeaten on the season. The Knights dropped to 1-3-0 following the loss.
South Carolina’s attack pressed the UCF defense down the stretch, and the Gamecocks broke through with less than 10 minutes left in the contest. A corner kick by senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan found senior defender Paige Bendell, who put an attempt on goal. Her shot deflected off the post, sending the ball to Wark near the left side of box. The Whitby, Ontario, native collected the deflection and rifled a shot into the net past UCF keeper Vera Varis. The goal marked the first of the year for Wark, who led all freshmen with eight points last season.
A pair of handballs led to the first two goals of the match early in the second half. South Carolina midfielder Dominique Babbitt suffered an unfortunate deflection in the box in the 56th minute when the ball bounced off her knee and deflected into her arm. The play resulted in a penalty kick for the Knights, who took a 1-0 lead after midfielder Amanda Wilkin found the back of the net on the attempt. Less than two minutes later, UCF committed a hand ball in the box, and Drennan converted the ensuing penalty kick, calmly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner of the net to bring the Gamecocks even.
Drennan nearly put South Carolina ahead in the 60th minute when she connected on a cross into the box. Her header dipped towards net and forced Varis to punch the ball away out of bounds. The ensuing corner was handled by the Knights, and the danger was cleared.
Neither team produced a quality scoring chance in the opening 45 minutes, as both schools attempted one shot on goal in the first half. In the fourth minute, McCaskill slipped between a pair of defenders in the left corner of the box and fired a shot directly into the hands of Varis. The junior saw another opportunity with two minutes left in the half when freshman defender Tatumn Milazzo slipped a great through pass to her in the attacking third. McCaskill gathered the ball on the left side and found some space before floating a shot that curled just wide.
The Gamecocks outshot the Knights, 12-7, for the game and ended the match with seven attempts on frame. South Carolina also boasted the advantage in corner kicks (10-5), while freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski needed just one save to pick up her second straight win.
“I’m very pleased with getting a result on the road against an excellent opponent. I give a lot of credit to our team for hanging in there and staying tough. I thought we had a much better second half. We responded well and played a good half to win the game. It took a lot of character to win.” — Shelley Smith
Senior center back Paige Bendell’s shot off the post set up the crucial goal for Wark in the 83rd minute. The score marked Wark’s second career game-winner.
The South Carolina attack kept the pressure on UCF keeper Vera Varis all night, putting seven shots on frame. UCF tallied just two attempts on target on Sunday.
- South Carolina is 9-1-1 in games played in August over the last three seasons.
- Two of sophomore forward Simone Wark’s four goals have been game-winners.
- After recording just two shots in the first 45 minutes, the Gamecocks registered 10 attempts in the second half, six of which were on target.
- Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan has now tallied goals in back-to-back games. It’s the second time in her career she has scored goals in two straight contests.
- Drennan’s goal in the 57th minute was the first penalty kick attempt for the Gamecocks. She now has seven career goals.
The Gamecocks begin a four-match homestand on Fri., Sept. 2, against No. 8 Clemson. The game, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, will mark the first contest between the two at Stone Stadium since the Gamecocks moved past the Tigers in penalty kicks in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.