Oct. 6, 2016
STARKVILLE, Miss. – No. 4 South Carolina women’s soccer pushed its winning streak to a program-record 12 matches after topping Mississippi State 1-0 at MSU Soccer Field Thursday night. Senior forward Sophie Groff tallied the late game-winner for the Gamecocks, who improved to 12-0-1 (6-0-0 SEC) with the victory. The Bulldogs dropped to 6-7-0 overall and 1-5-0 in league play following the loss.
After a defensive battle for much of the second half, Carolina broke through in the 80th minute when senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan sent in a cross from the right side of the box. Her pass first found midfielder Lindsey Lane and eventually rolled to Groff, who fired the ball just under the cross bar to put the Gamecocks in front. With the assist, Drennan matched the school record with 33 for her career, while Groff’s goal was her fourth of the season.
South Carolina’s defense came up large in the second half, stifling an aggressive Bulldog attack that had its chances down the stretch. In the 57th minute, a scrum in the box led to a close-range shot by MSU that called for a difficult save by Gamecock freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski. Fifteen minutes later, the Bulldogs sent a low cross into the box that was poked away by Carolina senior center back Kaleigh Kurtz.
The Gamecocks boasted the majority of the scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes, putting eight shots on goal in the first half. South Carolina nearly opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Drennan slipped a through ball that hit Groff in stride near the left edge of the box. The forward collected the pass and took a few touches before ripping a close-range shot that was turned away by Mississippi State goalkeeper Tanya de Souza.
Later in the half, freshman defender Tatumn Milazzo sent a pair of dangerous crosses into the box that resulted in two headers on goal. Her first pass in the 30th minute found Savannah McCaskill, who saw her shot saved after she couldn’t get enough on her attempt. Five minutes later, Milazzo connected with freshman Elexa Bahr at the far post. The freshman used her head to fire the shot near goal, where a diving Souza poked the ball away. South Carolina’s final quality attempt of the first period came in the 41st minute when senior defender Paige Bendell’s header was cleared off the line following a corner kick.
Krzeczowski totaled three saves, as she picked up her league-leading sixth shutout. The Gamecocks held a 16-5 shot advantage for the match and finished the game with five corner kicks.
“Mississippi State did a great job to battle and make it difficult. We’re obviously thrilled to come out with a victory. It’s an incredible streak, but we try not to focus on it too much. We just focus on taking it game-by-game.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith.
Senior attacker Sophie Groff’s late goal sealed the victory for South Carolina. Each of the last two game-winners for the Gamecocks came after the 80th minute.
The Gamecocks prevented Mississippi State from getting a quality scoring chance in the second half, holding the Bulldogs to one shot on frame in the final 45 minutes.
- South Carolina’s 13-match unbeaten streak is one short of the program record set in 2009 when the Gamecocks started the season 13-0-1.
- The Gamecocks have earned a shutout in seven of their last eight matches. They boast eight clean sheets for the season.
- All four of Sophie Groff’s goals this season have come in SEC play. With her goal, the senior forward became the third Gamecock to reach double-digit points in 2016.
South Carolina hosts No. 11 Arkansas at Stone Stadium Sunday in a battle of the top-two teams in the SEC. The match is set to get underway at 2 p.m. ET.