Oct. 8, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 4 South Carolina women’s soccer (12-0-1, 6-0-0 SEC) hosts No. 11 Arkansas (13-1-0, 6-0-0 SEC) on Sun., Oct. 9, in a battle of the top-two teams in the SEC. This weekend marks the Gamecocks’ second contest against a top-25 opponent in 2016, and kickoff from Stone Stadium is slated for 2 p.m. ET. Admission is free, and the match 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.
Due to South Carolina hosting several athletic events on Sunday, there will be limited concessions available at Stone Stadium. Fans will be allowed to bring in their own food and drinks.
FROM THE COACH
“Sunday is a big game for both programs. We are excited to be back home after a couple SEC games on the road. Arkansas has proven itself through the season against top opponents, and we must be ready to compete.” – Shelley Smith
At 13-0-1 and 6-0-0 in SEC play, No. 11 Arkansas is off to its best start in school history. The Razorbacks topped Vanderbilt 4-0 at home Thursday to notch their eighth-straight victory and match their longest winning streak ever. Arkansas’s lone loss in 2016 came on the road against George Washington (Sept. 4), and the Razorbacks head to Columbia with two wins over top-five opponents this season. They knocked off No. 2 Duke (Aug. 26) before moving past No. 4 Florida (Sept. 16) in a pair of 2-1 decisions at home.
Six Arkansas players have notched double-digit points this season, including senior midfielder Claire Kelley, who leads the SEC with 10 assists. Kelley’s 20 points overall rank first among Razorbacks and fourth in the league, while freshman midfielder Kayla McKeon leads the team with seven goals this season. Senior goalkeeper Cameron Carter has started all 14 matches in net, where she sports a 0.95 goals against average.
South Carolina leads the all-time series against Arkansas with a mark of 11-3-3. The Gamecocks, who are unbeaten in their last 10 matches against the Razorbacks, played to a 2-2 draw in Fayetteville last season. Carolina is 5-2-0 when facing Arkansas at home, with wins in each of its last five games against the Razorbacks at Stone Stadium.
LAST TIME OUT
The Gamecocks set a school record with their 12th-straight victory after downing Mississippi State 1-0 Thursday night on the road. Senior Sophie Groff netted the game-winner, finding the back of the net in the 80th minute after collecting a cross from senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan. It marked the fourth goal in league play for Groff, who became the third Gamecock to reach double-digit points (10) this season. The Gamecocks boasted a 16-9 shot advantage in the contest and put nine attempts on frame. Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski collected three saves to record her fifth clean sheet of the year and moved to 9-0-1.
SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE
Sunday’s top-25 showdown will pit the top offensive team in the SEC against one of the best defenses in the country. The Razorbacks, who have scored four goals or more four times this season, enter the match with the league lead in points (106), goals (37) and assists (32). South Carolina has earned a shutout in seven of its last eight matches and allowed just one goal in SEC play. The Gamecocks rank fifth in Division I in goals against average (0.38), and their five goals conceded in 2016 are the fewest among SEC schools. South Carolina has held each of its last 12 opponents to three or fewer shots on target.
South Carolina earned its highest NSCAA ranking in program history on Tuesday, grabbing the No. 4 spot in the coaches’ poll. The Gamecocks were listed in the top five in back-to-back weeks for the first time ever, and they have been ranked in the top 10 since Sept. 20. Carolina has also boasted the program’s top NCAA RPI ranking this season, checking in at No. 4 in each of the last two weeks, and the Gamecocks are currently ranked in the top 10 by Soccer America (No. 5) and TopDrawerSoccer.com (No. 10).
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
The Gamecocks, who sport the top winning percentage (.962) in Division I, are one of two teams still unbeaten on the year. Bucknell marks the other undefeated team, as the Bison enter the weekend at 10-0-1 on the year. The Gamecocks went unbeaten (6-0-1) in non-conference play for the first time since 2013, and their 12-0-1 record marks their best start since 2009, when they won their first 11 matches and began the season 13-0-1.
STREAKING TOWARDS MORE HISTORY
In addition to setting the program’s longest winning streak, South Carolina is also nearing the top unbeaten streak in school history. At 12-0-1, the Gamecocks are one win or draw away from the program’s 14-game unbeaten streak that was set in 2009 following the team’s 13-0-1 start to the season.
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.
SOUTH CAROLINA AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
The Gamecocks sport an all-time mark of 23-55-12 against ranked opponents. South Carolina, which defeated No. 6 Clemson 2-1 on Sept. 3, is 12-17-6 when facing a top-25 team at home, and the Gamecocks have gone 7-3-1 against teams ranked in the top 15 over the last four seasons.
PACKING THE SEATS
South Carolina leads Division I in average home attendance this season, with a mark of 3,365 fans per match at Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks, who have ranked in the top 10 in average home attendance in each of the last three years, are currently second in total attendance (23,555) among Division I schools.
DRENNAN ONE ASSIST AWAY FROM SETTING PROGRAM RECORD
With an assist against Mississippi State on Thursday, senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan matched the program record of 33. The Anderson, S.C., native, who ranks second on the team with four assists this season, led the Gamecocks in the statistical category in each of her first three seasons.
IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
Forward Savannah McCaskill, who has registered at least one point in nine of South Carolina’s 13 matches this season, leads the SEC in every scoring category – goals (11), points (28), and game-winners (6). Her six game-winners sit as the second-best mark in Division I, and she also ranks in the top five nationally in goals and points. The Chapin, S.C., native’s 11 goals in 2016 are the most ever in a season for her, and she stands three away from the program’s single-season record. Her 28 points this fall are one short of her career high and six away from the most by a Gamecock in one season.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Savannah McCaskill enters this weekend ranked in the top 10 on four lists in South Carolina’s record book. The forward sits in the top five in points (3rd, 72) goals (4th, 26) and assists (4th, 20), and she is tied for sixth with eight career game-winners.
Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan is one assist shy from setting a new program record (34), and her 10 game-winning assists are two short of the school record (12). With her assist against the Bulldogs, Drennan moved into seventh place (53 points) on South Carolina’s all-time scoring list. Sophie Groff’s game-winner on Thursday moved the forward into a tie for seventh (19) on the school’s all-time goals list. The senior’s eight career game-winning goals are tied for the sixth-best total in school history.
South Carolina continues SEC play next weekend when it plays host to No. 16 Florida on Sun., Oct. 16. Kickoff between the Gators and Gamecocks is set for 2 p.m. ET, and the match will air on SEC Network.