Sept. 24, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Looking to push its winning streak to double-digits, No. 8 South Carolina (9-0-1) rounds out a pair of home SEC matches on Sun., Sept. 25, against Kentucky (4-4-2) at Stone Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. ET, and the contest can be seen 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.
FROM THE COACH
“We have to come back from playing on Thursday and take advantage of being at home for two games. We’ve been lucky to score goals early on in games, and that makes a big difference. It’s about doing what we’ve done well till this point. Kentucky is another team that has great individual players that can hurt you if you give them any time in that offensive third. We need to be sharp in our defense.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith.
Sunday marks the second road SEC match this week for Kentucky, which fell to Missouri 2-0 on Thursday to drop to 4-4-2 on the year. The Wildcats have yet to earn a win in conference play, as they sit at 0-2-1 in the SEC following losses to the Tigers and Florida (Sept. 8) and a draw against Alabama (Sept. 18). Kentucky enters this weekend unbeaten in five of its last seven matches, and it sports a mark of 1-2-1 in road contests.
Junior forward Tanya Samarzich, one of three Wildcat players with at least three goals in 2016, leads Kentucky with 13 points on six goals and an assist. Freshman forward Marissa Bosco ranks first on the team with five assists, while senior midfielder Kaitline Miller’s nine points and three assists are both good for the second-best mark among Wildcats. Freshman goalkeeper Evangeline Soucie, who ranks third in the SEC with 51 saves, has played all 10 matches in net, where she sports a 1.43 goals against average. Kentucky’s 1.56 goals against average overall ranks 12th in the SEC, and the Wildcats have netted the seventh-most goals among conference members, scoring 19 times.
South Carolina is 7-13-1 all-time against the Wildcats dating back to 1995. The Gamecocks defeated Kentucky 2-1 in their last home game in the series in 2013.
LAST TIME OUT
A pair of late goals from seniors Chelsea Drennan and Sophie Groff lifted the Gamecocks past LSU 3-1 at Stone Stadium Thursday. In the 74th minute, Groff slipped a beautiful through ball into the left side of the box to Drennan, who took a few touches between slotting the ball in between the legs of LSU goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier. Less than two minutes later, junior forward Savannah McCaskill charged into the box, where she was taken down. Groff converted the ensuing penalty kick, finding the left side of the net with ease to put Carolina up 3-1.
McCaskill opened the scoring in the 10th minute with her SEC-leading 10th goal. She connected from well outside of the box after finding some space in the attacking third before the Tigers responded with an equalizer on the counter attack in the 26th minute. Carolina ended the match with a 20-4 shot advantage, outshooting its opponent for the ninth time this season. Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski tallied two saves, as she moved to 6-0-1 on the year.
South Carolina checked in at No. 5 in the season’s first NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which was released on Monday. The ranking matched the program’s highest ever in the tool used by the selection committee to determine the 64-team field for the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks were last ranked No. 5 in RPI on Sept. 22, 2014, when that season’s first set of rankings were released. Stanford (7-0-1) is currently ranked No. 1, while BYU (7-1-0), Georgetown (8-1-0) and West Virginia (7-1-1) round out the top four.
2016 CLEAN SHEET
The Gamecocks are one of five Division I schools still unbeaten on the year. Joining South Carolina in the undefeated ranks are No. 1 Stanford, No. 17 South Florida, Bucknell and Lehigh. The Gamecocks went unbeaten (6-0-1) in non-conference play for the first time since 2013, and their 8-0-1 record marks their best start since 2009, when they won their first 11 matches.
STREAKING TOWARDS HISTORY
South Carolina’s nine-straight victories mark its second-longest winning streak in program history. The Gamecocks won their first 11 matches of the 2009 season and went unbeaten through their opening 14 contests. Carolina’s 9-0-1 start to this season matches last year’s 10-match unbeaten streak, and the Gamecocks are 13-0 in September games since 2015.
ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
The Gamecocks have yet to trail in a match this season through 920 minutes of game action. South Carolina has headed into halftime with the lead in eight games, and six of its victories have come by at least two goals. The Gamecocks have scored in the opening 15 minutes of a match seven times in 2016.
DRENNAN CLOSING IN ON PROGRAM ASSIST RECORD
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 third 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.
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE
LSU’s goal on Thursday marked the first score given up by South Carolina in the last 398 minutes. The Tigers became the first team to net a first-half goal this season against the Gamecocks, who have outscored opponents 17-2 at home in 2016. South Carolina held each of its last nine opponents to three or fewer shots on target, and it has outshot all but one team it has faced this season.
MCCASKILL’S BLISTERING PACE
Forward Savannah McCaskill, who has registered at least one point in seven of South Carolina’s 10 matches this season, ranks in the top-five in Division I in five categories – Goals (2nd, 10), points (2nd, 24), game-winners (2nd, 5), goals per game (4th, 1.00) and points per game (4th, 2.40). The Chapin, S.C., native’s 10 goals in 2016 equal her scoring output from last season and stand two away from the most in a season by a junior in school history.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
With goals against Auburn and LSU, junior forward Savannah McCaskill moved up two lists in South Carolina’s record book. Her seven game-winning goals rank sixth in school history, and she stands in fourth place with 25 career goals. Her 68 points are good for the third-highest total all-time, and she also ranks in the top five in assists with 18 (4th).
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 first career game-winner against LSU on Thursday moved the team captain into a tie for seventh on the program’s all-time scoring list with 52 points. Fellow senior Sophie Groff ranks seventh in school history with six career game-winning goals.
South Carolina plays the first of two-straight SEC road matches on Thu., Sept. 22, when it travels to No. 14 Texas A&M. Next week’s top-25 battle, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, will air on SEC Network.