Nov. 11, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Paced by two goals from senior forward Sophie Groff and tallies from five other Gamecocks, No. 1 seed South Carolina women’s soccer (19-1-1) claimed a dominant 7-0 victory over Alabama State (11-10-1) in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament Friday night at Stone Stadium. The victory marked the 200th win at Carolina for Shelley Smith, who guided the Gamecocks to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years.
Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan and junior forward Savannah McCaskill both totaled three assists for the Gamecocks, who boasted a 29-1 shot advantage for the match. The two also netted goals, as they joined Groff, seniors Daija Griffin and Claire Studebaker and freshman Elexa Bahr on the score sheet. Carolina attempted all 10 of the contest’s corner kicks and held the Hornets to zero attempts on target.
McCaskill opened the scoring in the ninth minute following a pair of nice passes in the attacking third. Groff found Drennan near the box, and the midfielder sent in a low cross from the right side that led to a tap-in goal for McCaskill. McCaskill returned the favor four minutes later, slipping a great pass to Groff that set the senior up with a close-range goal from inside the box.
Carolina’s advantage grew to three in the 17th minute after another great pass from McCaskill. Her delivery hit Griffin in stride near the right side of the box, and the striker ripped the ball into the left side of the net. McCaskill’s third assist of the half led to a goal by Drennan, who collected the pass and maneuvered around Alabama State goalkeeper Gianna Guyot before slotting home an empty-net score to make it 4-0.
The Gamecocks tacked on two more goals towards the end of the first period, with Bahr and Studebaker both netting their first scores of the season. Bahr converted from close range off a cross from Drennan, while Studebaker one-timed a shot after a pass from senior defender Evelyn Robinson. Carolina totaled six corner kicks and 15 shots in the opening 45 minutes.
Groff’s productive night was capped off with a goal in the 54th minute after she collected a pass from junior midfielder Dominique Babbitt and beat the keeper at the near post from the right side of the box. The Grapevine, Texas, native’s performance on Friday marked her first multi-goal of the season.
Freshman Mikayla Krzeczowski and redshirt freshman Hunter Peifer split time in net, with each keeper playing 45 minutes. Neither Gamecock needed to record a save, and Krzeczowski moved to 16-1-1 on the year with the victory.
“Coming off the season we had and our performance at the SEC Tournament, I felt good about coming back home. We’ve had great success here this season, and I know our team was excited about playing in the postseason, so we felt good coming into the match. We had time to rest and recover from the SEC Tournament, so we were ready and prepared, and showed that throughout the game, and we put the ball in the net.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
On getting her 200th win at South Carolina – “It’s exciting. I’m thrilled to be here and be able to win games with this staff and team. I’m glad we’re not done for right now. I don’t keep track of the wins, but it’s pretty neat when those milestones come along. We had some alumni here, and some of our players even said, “I was here for your 150th win.” So it’s neat, but it’s not something I record or keep track of. But I’m thrilled to be able to represent the University of South Carolina and put ourselves in the position to win games and to win championships.”
Senior forward Sophie Groff’s first of two goals against Alabama State put Carolina up 2-0 less than 15 minutes into the match. The striker finished the match with a team-high three shots on goal.
South Carolina held the Hornets to zero shots on target. Alabama State entered the match with the top scoring offense in Division I, averaging 2.95 goals per match.
- South Carolina’s 19 wins in 2016 match the program record for the most victories in one season.
- The Gamecocks’ seven goals against Alabama State were their most in a match this year. Their scoring output marked the third–best single-match goal total in school history.
- South Carolina’s six goals in the opening 45 minutes were the second-most in one half in program history. The Gamecocks tallied seven goals in the second half against South Carolina State in 2001.
- Freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski is the third Gamecock to notch double-digit shutouts (10) in one season.
- Seniors Sophie Groff and Chelsea Drennan and junior Savannah McCaskill all set the school record for the most points (5) in an NCAA Tournament match. Drennan and McCaskill’s three assists matched the program’s single-game record.
South Carolina will face either No. 20 Colorado or Oklahoma State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament next week. The date of the match will be announced at a later time.