Oct. 21, 2016
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – South Carolina women’s soccer continued its late-game magic Thursday, as senior forward Daija Griffin tallied a goal in the 97th minute to lift the No. 2 Gamecocks (15-0-1, 9-0-0 SEC) to a 2-1 overtime win over Vanderbilt at VU Soccer Complex. The result marked the second-straight overtime victory for Carolina, which remained atop the SEC with two games to play and pushed its program-best winning streak to 15 matches. The Commodores fell to 8-7-1 overall and 4-4-1 in conference play with the loss.
Griffin’s game-winner was set up by a beautiful through ball from senior Sophie Groff. Her pass hit Griffin in stride in the box, and the senior kept her composure and slipped a shot into the net past Vanderbilt keeper Lauren Demarchi. The goal marked the second of the season for Griffin, who boasts eight scores for her career.
The Commodores sent the match into overtime after finding the back of the net with one second left in regulation. Vanderbilt struck on the counter attack, taking advantage of a rebound in the box. Commodore forward Kaylann Boyd found herself all alone on the break, and she fired a shot that was knocked away by Gamecock goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski. Vanderbilt’s Sydney O’Donnell cleaned up the rebound, slotting home the empty-net goal to even the game at one.
The Gamecocks opened the scoring early, converting on a corner kick in the first minute after Groff’s shot from inside the box was blocked away out of bounds. Drennan’s service into the box found Paige Bendell at the far post, and the senior center back elevated over the defense and headed home the goal to put Carolina in front 1-0 with just 48 seconds gone in the match. The goal marked the first of the season for Bendell, while Drennan pushed her program-record assist total to 36.
After grabbing the early advantage, the Gamecocks saw multiple scoring chances towards the end of the first half. In the 36th minute, junior forward Savannah McCaskill gathered the ball near the top of the box and rifled a shot that was blocked by the defense. Less than two minutes later, senior forward Claire Studebaker found herself one-on-one with the keeper and fired a close-range shot that was saved.
McCaskill nearly pushed the advantage to two early in the second half, starting in the 49th minute when she tried her luck from well outside the box. Her attempt sent a dangerous shot towards net that dipped just over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Drennan sent a cross from the right side to the far post, where an open McCaskill one-timed a shot that was saved.
South Carolina boasted a 16-7 shot advantage for the match and held the Commodores to three attempts on frame. Krzeczowski totaled two saves to pick up the win and improve to 12-0-1 in 2016.
“It’s a big credit to the team to find a way to win. It was a devastating end to regulation, and we talked about it and said you couldn’t do anything about that now. They pulled it together, and that’s what they did all year. We learned from it, and we’ll be that much better of a team come Sunday.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
Senior forward Daija Griffin’s game-winner in the 97th minute clinched the victory for South Carolina. It was the third career game-winning goal for the Piscataway, N.J., native.
South Carolina had the majority of the scoring chances in the match, as the Commodores were limited to just seven total shots. The Gamecocks put four attempts on goal.
- With a win Sunday against Tennessee, the Gamecocks will clinch at least a share of the SEC Regular-Season title.
- South Carolina’s nine victories in SEC play this season match the most in school history.
- Senior defender Paige Bendell’s header goal in the first minute was the second-fastest score (48 seconds) in program history.
- Vanderbilt’s goal in the 90th minute was the first one South Carolina conceded on the road in league play this season.
South Carolina plays its final road match of the regular season Sunday when it faces Tennessee. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.