Sept. 28, 2016
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 5 South Carolina women’s soccer (10-0-1, 4-0-0 SEC) takes a 10-match winning streak on the road to Ellis Field, where it will face Texas A&M (7-4-0, 2-2-0 SEC) on Thu., Sept. 29. Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Aggies is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the contest will air on SEC Network.
FROM THE COACH
“Texas A&M is a tough place to play. We’ve found it challenging when we’ve been there, and they have a tremendous home crowd. We need to focus on the task at hand and worry about what we can control. We’re excited to play in such an exciting atmosphere, and hopefully we can get a result on the road.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
The Aggies return home on Thursday after dropping a pair of SEC road matches against Vanderbilt (Sept. 22) and Alabama (Sept. 25) last week. Texas A&M, which began the season ranked No. 8 by the NSCAA, sports a mark of 7-4-0 overall. The Aggies are 2-2-0 in SEC play and 7-2-0 when playing at Ellis Field, the site of each of their first nine matches of the season. Texas A&M lost 1-0 in its two contests against top-25 opponents in 2016, falling to No. 1 Florida State (Aug. 19) and No. 15 UCLA (Aug. 26).
Junior forward Haley Pounds, one of four Texas A&M players with multiple goals this season, leads the Aggies with 16 points. She has found the back of the net six times, while junior midfielder Mikaela Harvey ranks second on the team in assists (3) and points (5). Senior goalkeeper Danielle Rice has started all 11 matches in net and sports a 0.72 goals against average. Texas A&M’s 16 goals and 45 points this season both rank 12th in the SEC.
South Carolina is 1-5-1 all-time against the Aggies in a series that dates back to 2003. The Gamecocks picked up their first victory over Texas A&M last season in a dramatic 2-1 win at Stone Stadium, and they earned a 2-2 draw in their last visit to Ellis Field in 2014. Six of the seven games between the two have been decided by one goal or less, with two matches going into overtime.
LAST TIME OUT
The Gamecocks notched their sixth shutout of the season this past Sunday against Kentucky, blanking the Wildcats 3-0 at Stone Stadium. Seniors Sophie Groff and Kaleigh Kurtz and junior Lindsey Lane registered second-half goals for South Carolina, which held Kentucky to zero shots in the final 51 minutes of the match. Groff opened the scoring in the 56th minute with her third goal in league play, connecting on a great ball into the box from junior forward Savannah McCaskill. McCaskill recorded two assists Sunday to bring her league-leading point total to 26, while freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski collected a pair of saves, as she recorded her fourth clean sheet and move to 7-0-1 on the year.
SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS
South Carolina checked in at No. 4 in this week’s NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which was released on Monday. The ranking was 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 continued their climb up the NSCAA Top 25, earning the No. 5 spot in Tuesday’s coaches’ poll. The ranking equaled the school’s highest ever and marked the second time it has earned a No. 5 five listing. South Carolina, which is also rated in the top 10 by Soccer America (No. 8) and TopDrawerSoccer.com (N0. 10), was last ranked No. 5 by the NSCAA during the 2009 season.
2016 CLEAN SHEET
The Gamecocks are one of four Division I schools still unbeaten on the year. Joining South Carolina in the undefeated ranks are No. 1 Stanford, No. 15 South Florida and Bucknell. The Gamecocks went unbeaten (6-0-1) in non-conference play for the first time since 2013, and their 10-0-1 record marks their best start since 2009, when they won their first 11 matches.
STREAKING TOWARDS HISTORY
South Carolina’s 10-straight victories mark the 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 10-0-1 start to this season also marks its second-longest unbeaten streak.
South Carolina is 14-0-0 in the month of September since 2015. The Gamecocks have outscored opponents 39-5 in those 14 matches, earning eight shutouts along the way. Two of the victories have come against top-10 opponents, with South Carolina downing No. 4 Texas A&M last season (Sept. 24) before moving past Clemson (Sept. 3) this fall.
ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
The Gamecocks have trailed for just 85 seconds this season, falling behind 1-0 against UCF (Aug. 28) following a penalty kick. South Carolina has headed into halftime with the lead in eight games, and seven 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.
LET’S GET DEFENSIVE
Thursday’s match between the Gamecocks and Aggies will feature the top two defenses in the SEC. South Carolina, which has notched a clean sheet in five of its last six contests, ranks first in the league in goals against average (0.45), goals allowed (5) and shutouts (6). Texas A&M sits in second place in the defensive categories, as the Aggies boast a 0.72 goals against average to go along with eight goals allowed and five shutouts. South Carolina’s six shutouts in 2016 equal its total from all of last year.
MCCASKILL’S BLISTERING PACE
Forward Savannah McCaskill, who has registered at least one point in eight of South Carolina’s 11 matches this season, ranks second in Division I in three categories – goals (10), points (26), and game-winners (5). She leads all SEC players in the three categories, and the Chapin, S.C., native also ranks top-five nationally in points per game (2.36). McCaskill’s 10 goals in 2016 equal her scoring output from last season and stand four away from the program’s single-season record. She is one game-winner shy of South Carolina’s single-year record, and her 26 points are tied for the seventh-most by a Gamecock in one season.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Savannah McCaskill enters this week’s match against the Aggies ranked in the top 10 on four lists in South Carolina’s record book. The forward sits in the top five in points (3rd, 70) goals (4th, 25) and assists (4th, 20), and she is tied for sixth with seven career game-winners.
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 Sept. 22 moved the team captain into a tie for seventh on the program’s all-time scoring list with 52 points. Fellow senior Sophie Groff is tied for sixth in school history with seven career game-winning goals, and she ranks ninth with 18 goals.
South Carolina is back on the road next week when it resumes SEC play at Mississippi State on Thu., Oct. 6. Kickoff between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.