Oct. 9, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Second-half goals from senior attacker Sophie Groff and junior midfielder Lindsey Lane paced No. 4 South Carolina women’s soccer to a 3-1 win over No. 11 Arkansas in Sunday’s top-25 battle at Stone Stadium. The victory over the Razorbacks pushed Carolina’s winning streak to 13 matches and gave the Gamecocks (13-0-1, 7-0-0) sole possession of first place in the SEC. Arkansas fell to 13-2-0 and 6-1-0 in league play following the loss.
Senior captain Chelsea Drennan added a pair of assists, while attacker Daija Griffin tallied her first goal of the season before registering an assist on South Carolina’s final goal of the afternoon. Both teams finished the match with 10 shots, and the Gamecocks held Arkansas to just two attempts on frame over the final 45 minutes. Carolina attempted three corner kicks compared to just two for the Razorbacks.
After heading to the break tied at one, Carolina reclaimed the lead in the 50th minute when Groff notched her fifth goal in SEC play. The Gamecocks were awarded a free kick near midfield, and junior forward Savannah McCaskill’s ball into the box fell to Groff, who used her head to float the ball past Arkansas goalkeeper Cameron Carter to make it 2-1.
South Carolina’s lead was pushed to two in the 60th minute following a great pass in the box by Drennan. The Anderson, S.C., native delivered a dangerous cross from the left side to Griffin, who guided the ball to Lane near the top of the box. Lane needed just one touch to rifle a shot into the net to give the Gamecocks a 3-1 advantage. The goal gave Drennan her ninth career multi-assist game and marked the second time Lane has scored this season.
The Gamecocks wasted little time opening the scoring, as Griffin found the back of the net 56 seconds into the match. Drennan created the scoring opportunity, threading a pass to Griffin that left her with the ball in the box. The senior took a few dribbles before slipping a shot by Carter to give Carolina an early 1-0 advantage. The scoring play made Drennan South Carolina’s new all-time assists leader with 34 for her career.
The Razorbacks responded in the 37th minute to make it 1-1 after connecting on a series of passes in the attacking third. Arkansas midfielder Reece Christopherson’s cross into the box from the right side found Claire Kelley, who fired a close-range shot that sent the ball just past the outstretched arms of South Carolina goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski. The goal was just the third one allowed by South Carolina at Stone Stadium this season.
Krzeczowski tallied two saves in the contest, as the freshman improved to 10-0-1 on the year. Carter totaled three saves in the losing effort for the Razorbacks, who entered the match on an eight-game winning streak. The Gamecocks improved to 12-3-3 all-time against Arkansas with the win.
“We deserve what we’ve earned so far, and we just need to stay the course and do as well as we can. We need to continue to focus on what we do. We know we’re a quality team, and we need to come out the same way every time.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
Forward Sophie Groff’s header in the 50th minute gave the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead and put Carolina back in front for good. All five of the senior’s goals this season have come in SEC play, and the game-winner was her second of the week. Groff scored in the 80th minute on Thursday to lift South Carolina over Mississippi State.
South Carolina held the Razorbacks to just three attempts on goal throughout the match. Arkansas entered Sunday’s match averaging 2.64 goals per game.
- With the victory, the Gamecocks matched their longest unbeaten streak ever (14) and equaled the program’s best start to a season. South Carolina opened its 2009 campaign 13-0-1.
- Sunday marked Carolina’s second win over a top-15 opponent this season. The Gamecocks topped No. 6 Clemson at Stone Stadium on Sept. 3.
- Arkansas’s goal in the 37th minute was the first one conceded by the Gamecocks in the last 372 minutes. Carolina has allowed just two goals in conference play this season.
- Forward Daija Griffin’s three points on Sunday were her most in a match ever. The senior has one goal and two assists on the season.
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 to 3 p.m. ET, and the match will air on SEC Network.