Sept. 17, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 14 South Carolina (7-0-1) begins a stretch of 10 SEC matches on Sun., Sept. 18, when it faces Auburn (5-3-0) at 7 p.m. ET at Auburn Soccer Complex. The Gamecocks, who are 1-0-1 in road matches this season, will aim for their eighth-straight win, and Sunday’s contest against the Tigers will air on SEC Network.
FROM THE COACH
“Auburn has always been a quality opponent. We’ve always had close games, and we’ve gone back and forth. Auburn was a ranked opponent at the beginning of the season, and they can play with anybody. We know they’re a difficult test for us, and we’re excited about showcasing two strong SEC teams.” — Soccer Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
This weekend’s match will mark the first game since Sept. 11 for the Tigers, who sport a 5-3-0 mark on the season. Auburn, which has split its six home games this year, has won its last two contests, defeating Vanderbilt (Sept. 9) and Baylor (Sept. 11) earlier this month. The Tigers fell to then-No. 14 Clemson in their only other match against a top-25 foe in 2016.
Three Auburn players have tallied multiple goals this year, including junior forward Kristen Dodson, who leads the team with nine points on three goals and three assists. Junior midfielder Courtney Schell is second on the team in goals (2) and assists (2), while redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Le Beau carries a goals against average of 1.10. As a team, Auburn ranks in the top five in the SEC in goals against average (1.10, 4th) and shutout percentage (.375, 5th), and its 10 goals are the 12th-best mark in the league.
South Carolina faced the Tigers twice last year, defeating them 2-0 in a top-10 battle at Stone Stadium on Oct. 8 before earning a 2-2 draw in the SEC quarterfinals on Nov. 4. The Gamecocks are 6-1-1 in their last eight matches against Auburn, and South Carolina leads the all-time series, 10-6-4.
LAST TIME OUT
South Carolina closed out its four-match homestand on Thursday in dominant fashion, holding UNCG to zero shots on goal in a 3-0 victory. The Spartans’ zero attempts on frame marked a season low for a Gamecock opponent, and South Carolina finished the match with a 28-3 shot advantage.
Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan tallied her first career multi-goal game, converting a pair of first-half headers off two throw-ins from senior center back Kaleigh Kurtz. Junior midfielder Dominique Babbitt opened the scoring in the 12th minute with her first goal of the season for the Gamecocks, who boasted a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Hunter Peifer remained perfect (3-0-0) on the year and earned her second shutout of the fall, and Kurtz’s performance was the first multi-assist match of her career.
NON-CONFERENCE CLEAN SHEET
The Gamecocks posted a record of 6-0-1 against non-conference foes this season, finishing unbeaten outside of league play for the first time since 2013. South Carolina allowed just one goal during this season’s stretch and outscored opponents 14-1. A win this weekend would give the Gamecocks (7-0-1) their best start since 2009 when they won their first 11 matches.
DRENNAN CLOSING IN ON HISTORY
With an assist against Georgia on Sept. 9, senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan moved one away from the program record of 33. The Anderson, S.C., native, who ranks third on the team with three assists this season, led the Gamecocks in the statistical category in each of her first three seasons.
South Carolina has not allowed a goal in the last 282 minutes of game action dating back to the Clemson match (Sept. 3). The Gamecocks, who have yet to concede a goal in the first half this season, have been especially tough at home, outscoring opponents 14-1 in 2016. South Carolina held each of its last seven opponents to three or fewer shots on target, and it has outshot every team it has faced this year.
READY FOR THE CAMERA
Sunday marks the first of three Gamecock matches that will be broadcast nationally on SEC Network in 2016. South Carolina’s TV slate continues this season against two teams currently ranked in the NSCAA Top 10 – No. 8 Texas A&M (Sept. 29) and No. 4 Florida (Oct. 16).
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Junior forward Savannah McCaskill continued to climb multiple lists in South Carolina’s record book following her five points against Georgia (Sept. 9). 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 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. Her two-goal performance against UNCG on Thursday moved the team captain into the top 10 on the program’s all-time scoring list at ninth (50).
The Gamecocks resume SEC play next week when they host LSU on Thu., Sept. 22, at Stone Stadium. Kickoff between South Carolina and the Tigers is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will air on SEC Network+, available through WatchESPN.