Sept. 22, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Second-half goals from midfielder Chelsea Drennan and forward Sophie Groff lifted No. 8 South Carolina women’s soccer to a 3-1 victory over LSU Thursday night at Stone Stadium. The pair of seniors helped the Gamecocks move their winning streak to nine matches and remain unbeaten (9-0-1, 3-0-0 SEC) on the season. The Tigers, who entered the game with wins in five of their last six contests, fell to 6-5-0 overall and 1-2-0 in league play.
Drennan and Groff’s goals came 72 seconds apart from one other and gave South Carolina a 3-1 lead late in the match. In the 74th minute, Groff slipped a beautiful through ball into the left side of the box to Drennan, who took a few touches before threading the ball into the net past LSU goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier. Less than two minutes later, junior forward Savannah McCaskill charged into the box, where she taken down by a Tiger defender. Groff converted the ensuing penalty kick with ease, as the Grapevine, Texas, native slotted the ball into the left side of the net to push Carolina’s advantage to two.
McCaskill opened the scoring on Thursday with a great strike from well outside the box in the 10th minute. The Gamecocks struck on the counter attack after the forward found some space in the attacking third and ripped a shot into the left corner of the goal to make it 1-0. McCaskill’s 10 goals this season lead the SEC and equal her scoring output from a year ago.
The Tigers equalized in the 26th minute when LSU forward Summer Clarke gathered a pass in the midfield and made move to free herself from the Gamecock defense. Clarke raced into the box and beat South Carolina freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski one-on-one to bring the Tigers even with just under 20 minutes left in the first half.
LSU’s first-half tally was its only quality scoring chance of the night, as the Gamecocks finished the match with a 20-4 shot advantage. Carolina held the Tigers to just three shots on frame and boasted a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
Minutes after McCaskill put the Gamecocks on the board, Drennan nearly headed home a goal directly in front of net. South Carolina saw another scoring opportunity in the 13th minute when midfielder Lindsey Lane fed the ball to Groff, whose shot from inside the box was saved after Brockmeier came off her line. The Gamecocks’ best chance out of the break came in the 63rd minute when McCaskill’s cross from the right side fell to the feet of senior attacker Daija Griffin. Griffin poked a shot that was turned away by Brockmeier at the last second.
Krzeczowski totaled two saves to move to 6-0-1 following the victory, while Brockmeier stopped eight shots and fell to 6-5-0 on the season. With the win, South Carolina moved to 11-2-6 all-time against the Tigers.
“I thought we had a much cleaner second half and did well to finish off the game. It was another gutsy performance. Our kids battled, and they won a lot of balls. We took some chances in the final third, and the defensive effort again was excellent.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
South Carolina limited LSU to just three shots on target. The Gamecocks have held their last nine opponents to three or fewer shots on frame.
- The Gamecocks are unbeaten through 10 matches for the second time in program history. South Carolina’s 9-0-1 record marks its best start to a season since 2009 when it won its first 11 games.
- LSU’s goal in the 26th minute was the first score South Carolina conceded in 398 minutes. It marked the first time a Gamecock opponent scored in the first half this year.
- Junior forward Savannah McCaskill’s 10 goals in 2016 are two shy of the program record for the most by a junior in a season. Former Gamecock Kayla Grimsley tallied 12 goals in her third year at Carolina in 2010.
- Senior attacker Sophie Groff has converted each of her two career penalty kicks. Thursday marked her first attempt since she scored one as a sophomore against Auburn in 2014.
South Carolina rounds continues SEC play on Sun., Sept. 25, when it hosts Kentucky at Stone Stadium. The contest is slated for a 2 p.m. kickoff, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+.