Oct. 15, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Looking to extend its program-record 13-match winning streak, No. 2 South Carolina women’s soccer (13-0-1, 7-0-0 SEC) plays host to No. 17 Florida (10-3-0, 5-2-0 SEC) Sunday at Stone Stadium. The match, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET, will air on SEC Network. A win against the Gators will keep Carolina atop the SEC standings with three matches to play.
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
“This team has earned the right to be the No. 2 team in the country right now, and they should feel good about it. This team has enjoyed every day they’ve gone out and they’ve competed and played hard. They’ve had fun doing it. Playing at Stone Stadium all year has been fantastic, and our fans have been amazing. This is a big game for us against a ranked Florida team. It always comes down to the wire with them, and it’s going to be a great showcase of SEC soccer.” – Shelley Smith
Florida tallied victories over Georgia (Oct. 6) and Ole Miss (Oct. 9) last week to push its winning streak to four matches. The Gators, who were picked to win the SEC in the preseason coaches’ poll, are 10-3-0 overall and 5-2-0 in league play. Florida sports a mark of 5-2-0 on the road in 2016, and this weekend will be its third match against a top-25 opponent this season. The Gators fell to No. 3 Stanford 1-0 on Aug. 26 before earning a 4-3 win against No. 15 UCLA on Aug. 28.
Florida senior attacker Savannah Jordan leads the SEC in points (31) and goals (12), and her team-high seven assists are tied for third among conference players. Three other Gators boast double-digit points on the year, including sophomore forward Melanie Monteagudo, whose three game-winners are tied with Jordan for the team lead. Sophomore goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese has notched four shutouts on the year for Florida, which ranks seventh in the conference in goals against average (1.28). The Gators average the most goals per match (2.77) in the SEC, and their 36 goals and 32 assists are the second-most in the league.
The Gamecocks are 5-21-1 all-time against the Gators in a series that dates back to 1995. South Carolina has won three of its last five matches against Florida, including a 3-2 overtime victory at Stone Stadium in 2014. Seven of the last eight games between the two have been decided by one goal or less, and two of the previous three contests have gone into overtime.
LAST TIME OUT
South Carolina topped No. 11 Arkansas 3-1 in last Sunday’s battle of the top-two teams in the SEC. The victory marked the Gamecocks’ second win over a Top-25 opponent this season and pushed their winning streak to 13 matches. Senior attacker Daija Griffin opened the scoring in the first minute, finding the back of the net for the first time this year. Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan recorded an assist on the scoring play to break the program record with 34 for her career.
The Gamecocks and Razorbacks headed to the half tied at one befor senior forward Sophie Groff tallied her fifth goal in SEC play in the 50th minute to give the lead back to Carolina. The advantage grew to two 10 minutes later after junior midfielder Lindsey Lane scored following a cross into the box from Drennan. Both teams tallied 10 shots in the match, while freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski collected two saves to move to 10-0-1 on the year.
TOP-LEVEL TALENT ON TAP
Sunday will feature the top-two offensive threats in the SEC in South Carolina forward Savannah McCaskill and Florida striker Savannah Jordan. McCaskill has notched at least one point in 10 of South Carolina’s 14 matches this season, and the junior’s 11 goals and 29 points rank second in the SEC. Jordan tops the league with 31 points and 12 goals, and her seven assists are tied with McCaskill for the 18th-best mark among Division I players.
The Gamecocks continued their historic climb up the NSCAA Top 25 on Tuesday, earning the No. 2 spot in the coaches’ poll. South Carolina, which earned the program’s previous highest ranking (No. 4) on Oct. 4, received six first-place votes Tuesday and remained in the top-five for the third-straight week. The Gamecocks have also improved on the program’s top NCAA RPI ranking, moving up to No. 3 on Monday after being listed at No. 4 in each of the last two weeks. The Gamecocks are currently ranked in the top three by TopDrawerSoccer.com (No. 2) and Soccer America (No. 3).
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
The Gamecocks, who sport the top winning percentage (.964) 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 11-0-1 on the year. The Gamecocks went unbeaten (6-0-1) in non-conference play for the first time since 2013, and their 13-0-1 record matches their best start to a season ever.
STREAKING FOR MORE GLORY
In addition to setting the program’s longest winning streak, South Carolina has also equaled the top unbeaten streak in school history. A win against the Gators would best the program’s 14-match 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
South Carolina sports an all-time mark of 24-55-12 against ranked opponents. The Gamecocks are 13-17-6 when facing a top-25 team at home, and they have gone 8-5-2 against teams ranked in the top 20 over the last four seasons. South Carolina topped No. 6 Clemson (Sept. 3) and No. 11 Arkansas (Oct. 9) in its two matches against top-25 foes this season.
PLAYING FOR A CROWD
South Carolina leads Division I in average home attendance this season, with a mark of 3,077 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 (24,616) among Division I schools.
DRENNAN SETS PROGRAM ASSISTS RECORD
With her first of two assists against No. 11 Arkansas last Sunday, senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan set the program record with 34 for her career. The Anderson, S.C., native, who ranks second on the team with six assists this season, led the Gamecocks in the statistical category in each of her first three seasons. Drennan’s performance this past weekend marked her ninth career multi-assist match.
A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
First-year South Carolina goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski earned her second SEC honor of the season on Monday after being tabbed the league’s Defensive Player of the Week. The Douglasville, Ga., native, who has started 10 of South Carolina’s 13 matches in 2016, ranks first in the league in goals against average (0.45) and shutouts (6), and her 10 wins are the most by a freshman goalkeeper in school history. Five of her six clean sheets have come in SEC play, and Arkansas’s goal in the 37th minute last Sunday was the first one conceded by Krzeczowski in 372 minutes.
MCCASKILL’S MARCH TOWARDS HISTORY
Forward Savannah McCaskill is enjoying one of the most prolific seasons in school history. Her 11 goals are three away from the most by a Gamecock in one year, and the junior’s seven assists are tied for the eighth-highest mark in a season. McCaskill’s six game-winners equal the school’s single-season record, and her 29 points stand five away from Kayla Grimsley’s program-best 34 in 2010.
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, 73) goals (4th, 26) and assists (4th, 21), and her eight career game-winners are the seventh-best total in school history.
Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan, South Carolina’s all-time assists leader (34), is two game-winning assists short of the school record (12). Drennan’s multi-assist performance against the Razorbacks moved her into sixth place on the all-time scoring list with 55 points. Sophie Groff tallied a pair of game-winners last week to climb to seventh (20) on Carolina’s all-time goals list and into a tie for 10th (49) on the all-time scoring list. Groff’s nine career game-winners are tied for fifth all-time among Gamecocks.
South Carolina continues SEC play Thursday (Oct. 20) on the road against Vanderbilt. The match against the Commodores, one of two conference road games for Carolina next week, kicks off at 8 p.m. ET. It can be seen on SEC Network+, available through WatchESPN.