Sept. 14, 2016
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 14 South Carolina (6-0-1) looks to remain unbeaten on the season when it closes out its four-game homestand on Thu., Sept. 15, against UNCG (3-4-1). Kickoff from Stone Stadium is set for 6 p.m. ET, and the match will mark the final non-conference contest of the regular season for the Gamecocks, who are currently on a six-match winning streak. Thursday’s game will be broadcast on SEC Network+, available through WatchESPN.
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.
UNCG enters Thursday’s match on a three-match losing streak after falling to Hofstra (Sept. 4), Liberty (Sept. 8) and William & Mary (Sept. 11). The Spartans sport a mark of 3-4-1 overall, and they have won both of their road matches, earning victories against Elon (Aug. 26) and Army (Sept. 2).
Sophomore forward Caylin Prillaman and junior midfielder Melanie Spensiero have notched three goals each this year and lead the team with six points. Five Spartans have registered an assist this fall, including senior forward Diarra Simmons, who ranks third on the team with thee points. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Chloe Buehler has started all eight games and ranks 22nd nationally with 44 saves. She boasts two shutouts on the year, notching clean sheets against Tennessee Tech (Aug. 21) and the Phoenix.
The Gamecocks are 3-1-0 all-time against UNCG, with their lone loss coming in the first match of the series in 2000. Thursday will be the first meeting between the two since 2010, and South Carolina defeated the Spartans 2-0 in its only home contest against them in 2001.
LAST TIME OUT
South Carolina pushed its winning streak to six matches after opening SEC play with a 3-0 victory over Georgia at home on Fri., Sept. 9. McCaskill notched the game-winner in the eighth minute and finished the night with five points on two goals and an assist. She opened the scoring after connecting on a cross from senior attacker Daijia Griffin, and her second goal in the 49th minute made it 2-0. McCaskill and senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan set up South Carolina’s third score, as the two worked the ball to the far post to senior attacker Sophie Groff, who tallied her first goal of the season in the 52nd minute.
The Gamecocks held the Bulldogs to three shots, the fewest attempts for a South Carolina opponent this season. Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski needed just two saves to secure her second shutout of the year. She improved to 4-0-1 for the Gamecocks, who have won each of their last three SEC openers.
The Gamecocks continued to climb up the NSCAA Top 25, which was released on Tuesday. South Carolina checked in at No. 14, up one spot from the previous week, and it remained ranked No. 10 by Soccer America and No. 22 by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Other SEC schools joining the Gamecocks in the NSCAA Top 25 are No. 4 Florida (5-1-0) and No. 8 Texas A&M (5-2-0).
STAT SHEET STUFFER
Forward Savannah McCaskill’s performance against the Bulldogs marked her second multi-goal game in her last three outings. She boasts three multi-goal games this season and five for her career, and the junior has tallied out least five points twice in 2016. McCaskill, who has registered a point in five of South Carolina’s seven contests this season, leads the Gamecocks with 20 points on eight goals and four assists. She ranks in the top five in Division I in four categories – game-winners (2nd, 4), points (2nd, 20), goals (3rd, 8) and points per game (4th, 2.86).
DRENNAN CLOSING IN ON HISTORY
With an assist against Georgia, senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan moved one away from the program record of 33. The Anderson, S.C., native, who ranks second on the team with three assists this season, has led the Gamecocks in the statistical category in each of her first three years. Two of her three assists in 2016 have come at Stone Stadium.
BOLSTER FROM THE BACK
The Gamecock back line has contributed to the team’s attack this season, with three defenders boasting multiple points on the year. Senior center back Paige Bendell ranks second on the team with two goals, while junior left back Anna Conklin is also second on the team with three assists. Senior Kaleigh Kurtz has notched an assist in two of the last three matches, setting up the game-winner with both of her assists.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Junior forward Savannah McCaskill continued to climb multiple lists in South Carolina’s record book following her five points against Georgia. She sits in third place on the all-time points list with 64, and her 23 goals are tied with former Gamecock Daniel Au for the fourth-best total. McCaskill also ranks in the top five in all-time assists with 18 (4th). The Chapin, S.C., native and senior forward Sophie Groff both sit just outside of the top five in career game-winning goals with six.
Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan, who is one assist away from the program record, stands three away from South Carolina’s game-winning assists record (12) with nine for her career.
The Gamecocks resume SEC play this weekend when they face Auburn on the road on Sun., Sept. 18, at the Auburn Soccer Complex. Kickoff between South Carolina and the Tigers is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the game will air on SEC Network.