Sept. 8, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In search of its sixth-straight win, No. 15 South Carolina women’s soccer (5-0-1) opens SEC play on Fri., Sept. 9, at home against Georgia (2-3-1). Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at Stone Stadium. Carolina enters league play as the only remaining unbeaten team in the conference.
This fall, South Carolina soccer matches are included in the Athletics Department’s new clear bag policy for all ticketed athletics events in a move designed to provide a safer environment and more expedited entry for fans. The Athletics Department encourages fans to not bring any type of bag to games, but understands that there are some who prefer to do so. The new policy will limit the size and type of bags that may be brought into South Carolina Athletics events. Information on the Clear Bag Policy and other Game Day Policies can be found online.
Due to technical difficulties, Friday’s match against Georgia will not be available to watch online on SEC Network+.
FROM THE COACH
“We’re very happy with where we’re at going into conference play. We had a challenging schedule, and the girls have come out on top and done really well. They have the confidence, and they want to keep the winning streak going. We’ll try our best to continue on that streak and fight for an SEC Championship. That’s our goal, and we start that on Friday.”- Shelley Smith
Georgia dropped a pair of matches last week at the Auburn Soccer Classic, falling to Southern Cal 3-0 (Sept. 2) before recording a 2-0 loss against Iowa State (Sept. 4). At 2-3-1 for the season, the Bulldogs sit at the bottom of the SEC standings heading into league play. Georgia, which returned eight starters from last year’s squad that won five games, suffered a 3-1 setback against Clemson on Aug. 21 in its only true road match of the season.
The Bulldogs rank 12th in the SEC in scoring with eight goals despite taking the fourth-most shots (105) among league members. Georgia’s 11 goals conceded are the most in the conference, and its one shutout of the fall came at home against Cal State Fullerton on Aug. 28. Individually, senior forward Lauren Tanner ranks sixth among SEC players with three assists and leads Georgia with seven points. Junior goalkeeper Louise Hogrell is tied for the league lead with 30 saves, while senior forward Marion Crowder has netted a team-high three goals. The Gamecocks, who are 7-15-3 all-time against the Bulldogs, defeated Georgia 3-1 on the road last season.
SOUTH CAROLINA IN SEC OPENERS
The Gamecocks sport an all-time mark of 9-9-3 in SEC openers dating back to 1995. South Carolina is 5-4-2 when opening conference play at home, and it has won each of its last two league openers, defeating Auburn 2-1 in 2014 before downing Georgia 3-1 on the road last season. Friday will mark the first time the Gamecocks open SEC play at home since 2012.
South Carolina pushed its winning streak to five matches and remained unbeaten on the year after going 2-0 for the second-straight week. The Gamecocks’ weekend was highlighted by a 2-1 win over No. 6 Clemson on Aug. 3, their 12th win all-time against a top-10 opponent. Junior forward Savannah McCaskill tallied both goals in the victory, scoring off a header in the 37th minute before registering the game-winner four minutes into the second half. Her two goals came against a Clemson squad that entered Saturday with just two goals allowed on the year.
On Monday, the Gamecocks moved past Charlotte 3-0 behind another productive night from McCaskill. She opened the scoring in the 11th minute with her team-leading sixth goal before adding an assist on sophomore Simone Wark’s goal in the 74th minute. In between scoring plays, an own goal by the 49ers pushed the Carolina lead to 2-0 midway through the first half, and Charlotte’s one shot on goal in the contest matched a season low for a Gamecock opponent.
Jumpstarted by its victory over the sixth-ranked Tigers, the Gamecocks made the biggest move in the NSCAA Top-25 poll. South Carolina, the first team receiving votes in the previous poll, was listed at No. 15 in the coaching organization’s rankings that were released on Tuesday. The Gamecocks are currently ranked 10th by Soccer America, and they are No. 22 in TopDrawerSoccer’s poll.
Junior forward Savannah McCaskill received three honors this week after totaling three goals and two assists in South Carolina’s wins over No. 6 Clemson and Charlotte. On Tuesday, she was tabbed the SEC Offensive Player of the Week, her third career conference weekly accolade, and she grabbed NCAA Soccer Women’s Player of the Week on Wednesday. The Chapin, S.C., native was also selected as TopDrawerSoccer’s Player of the Week. McCaskill ranks fifth in Division I with six goals, and her three game-winners are tied for first in the SEC. She also stands in the top three in the league in total points, with 15 for the season.
South Carolina’s defense has keyed its winning streak, limiting its last five opponents to three or fewer shots on goal. The Gamecocks held NC State (Aug. 25) and Charlotte (Sept. 5) to just one attempt on frame, and they have outshot every opponent this fall. South Carolina, which boasts an 8-1 goal advantage at home, has yet to concede a goal in the first half this season.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Junior forward Savannah McCaskill continued to climb multiple lists in South Carolina’s record book following her impressive two-game stretch against the Tigers and 49ers. Her 21 goals are the sixth-most in school history, and she sits in a tie for fourth on Carolina’s all-time scoring list with 59 points. McCaskill also ranks fourth in assists (17), and her five game-winners are tied for the seventh-best mark. Senior forward Sophie Groff sits one above McCaskill with six career game-winning goals. Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan inched closer to the school assist record (33) after adding one against NC State on Aug. 25. to bring her total to 31. She stands three away from South Carolina’s game-winning assists record (12) with nine for her career.
The Gamecocks conclude their four-game homestand on Thu., Sept. 15, when they face UNC Greensboro at Stone Stadium at 6 p.m. ET. The contest will mark South Carolina’s final non-conference match of the regular season.