Nov. 4, 2016
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — No. 2 South Carolina women’s soccer suffered its first loss of the season, falling to No. 15 Florida 1-0 in the SEC Semifinals Friday afternoon at the Orange Beach Sports Complex. The loss snapped a program-record 18-match winning streak for the Gamecocks, who will head into NCAA Tournament play at 18-1-1 on the season.
After an uneventful opening 15 minutes of the second half, the Gamecocks produced multiple bids for the equalizer. In the 63rd minute, Carolina forward Savannah McCaskill collected a pass and charged towards the box on the counter attack. The junior eventually delivered a cross from the right side that headed towards senior Sophie Groff, who was all alone in the box. McCaskill’s pass was slightly behind Groff, and the striker was unable to get a shot off.
Ten minutes later the Gamecocks nearly broke through when senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan’s header in the box created a dangerous loose ball. The deflection fell to senior center back Kaleigh Kurtz, whose shot was blocked by the Florida goalkeeper Kaylan Marckese at the last second. South Carolina’s final quality chance came in the 83rd minute when Kurtz sent a long pass into the attacking third. Her delivery floated near the top of the box towards McCaskill, but Marckese came off her line to snatch the ball away.
The Gators opened the scoring in the 19th minute after Florida midfielder Mayra Pelayo curled in a shot from the right side that dinged off the crossbar. Gator striker Savannah Jordan took advantage of the rebound, heading the ball into the net past a leaping Gamecock defender Paige Bendell to put Florida up 1-0.
Carolina saw multiple scoring chances in the first half, starting in the fourth minute when Drennan charged into the right side of the box with the ball. The Gamecock captain took a few dribbles before slipping a shot towards net that was eventually cleared away by a Gator defender. Less than three minutes later, Drennan one-timed a loose ball near the top of the box, sending a shot right at Marckese. McCaskill, who finished the contest with a team-high five shots, also saw a pair of opportunities in the opening period. In the 18th minute, the junior received a pass on the counter attack and alertly fired a shot from distance with the keeper off her line. Marckese was able to recover, diving to stop the ball from rolling into the net. McCaskill almost evened the score in the 38th minute when her dipping free kick from just outside the box hit off the crossbar.
The Gamecocks ended the match with a 12-7 shot advantage and put three attempts on frame. Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski totaled four saves for Carolina, which tallied seven corner kicks for the contest.
Florida’s tally in the 19th minute was the difference on Friday. It was one of five shots the Gators put on frame in the match.
Despite a 12-7 shot advantage, the Gamecocks were able to just put three shots on target.
- Friday marked the first time this season the Gamecocks were shutout in a game.
- With the loss, South Carolina moves to 2-1-0 in neutral games this season.
- Nine of the last 10 matches between the Gamecocks and Gators have been decided by one goal or less.
- This season marked Carolina’s fifth appearance in the SEC Semifinals in the last eight years.
South Carolina will now set its sights on Monday’s NCAA Selection Show (Nov. 7) to determine its first-round opponent. The show is set to air online on NCAA.com at 4:30 p.m. ET.