Nov. 16, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 1 seed South Carolina women’s soccer (19-1-1) plays host to Colorado (15-5-1) in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Thu., Nov. 17, at Stone Stadium. Kickoff between the third-ranked Gamecocks and 20th-ranked Buffaloes is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.
Thursday will mark Carolina’s first meeting with Colorado, and a win over the Buffaloes would give the Gamecocks a single-season program record 20 wins in 2016 and advance them to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history.
Tickets (cash only) are $8 for adults and $5 for students and children (17 and under). Fans can call the ticket office at 1-800-4SC-FANS, and tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the match. The first 250 South Carolina students will receive free admission at the Whaley Street entrance.
FROM THE COACH
“When you get into the NCAA Tournament you expect quality competition. We’ve faced good completion all year, and we’re going to build off that. Colorado plays in one of the top conferences in the country, and they were close to winning it. They’ve earned a lot of respect nationally, and they have some young players that have shown they compete at a high level. They’re dangerous off of set pieces, and we know it’s going to be a challenge.” – South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
Colorado earned a 3-1 win over Oklahoma State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament this past Saturday (Nov. 12) behind two first-half own goals by the Cowboys. The Buffaloes, winners of 13 of their last 16 matches, notched the program’s best finish (T-2nd) in the Pac-12 with an 8-2-1 conference mark. This season marks the ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Colorado, which is 5-3-0 on the road in 2016. The Buffaloes are 2-2-1 when facing a ranked opponent this fall.
Senior forward Danica Evans leads the Buffalo attack this year with 28 points on 11 goals and six assists. Midfielder Taylor Kornieck ranks second on the team in points (26), and the freshman has tallied a team-best six game-winning goals. Goalkeeper Jalen Tompkins, who has started the last 18 matches for Colorado, boasts the fourth-best save percentage (.857) among freshmen to go along with a 0.82 goals against average.
LAST TIME OUT
South Carolina opened the NCAA Tournament with a dominant 7-0 victory over Alabama State last Friday (Nov. 11) at Stone Stadium. Six players netted goals, including senior striker Sophie Groff, who finished the match with five points on two tallies and an assist. Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan and junior forward Savannah McCaskill also notched five points for a Gamecock team that boasted a 29-1 shot advantage. Carolina’s seven goals were a season high and the school’s third-highest scoring output ever, and its six tallies in the opening 45 minutes were the second-best total in one half in program history.
The victory marked the 200th win for coach Shelley Smith at South Carolina, and with another clean sheet freshman Mikayla Krzeczowski became the third player in program history to boast double-digit shutouts (10) in one season.
SOUTH CAROLINA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
This season marks Carolina’s 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the ninth time in the last 10 years it has reached the event. The Gamecocks, who have advanced to the second round in three of the last four years, sport a mark of 7-8-3 in NCAA Tournament matches, including a 2-3 record in round two. Carolina is 5-2-1 in the NCAA Tournament when facing a team at Stone Stadium, and Thursday will mark the second time it hosts a second-round match. Nine of its 10 NCAA Tournament appearances have come under coach Shelley Smith, and the Gamecocks are 9-1-1 against teams that qualified for the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
WE’RE NUMBER 1
South Carolina earned the program’s first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed when the 64-team field was announced during Monday’s selection show. This season marks the third time the Gamecocks will head into the NCAA Tournament with a national seed. Carolina was a No. 2 seed in 2009 and a No. 3 seed for the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
SMITH TALLIES WIN NO. 200 AT CAROLINA
Last Friday’s win over Alabama State marked the 200th victory at South Carolina for Shelley Smith, the program’s winningest coach. The 16th-year head coach, who spent four seasons at Rhode Island before coming to Carolina in 2001, has led the Gamecocks to double-digit wins 12 times during her tenure.
SCORE SHEET STUFFERS
The Gamecocks boast single-season program records in points (148) and assists (50) this year. Carolina’s 49 goals this fall are one shy of the school’s single-year record (50, 1998), and four Gamecocks boast at least five tallies in 2016. Nationally, the team ranks sixth in assists, ninth in points and 11th in goals. Senior midfielder Chelsea Drennan and junior striker Savannah McCaskill both sit two assists shy of the school’s single-season record with 11 for the year.
The Gamecocks have been ranked in the top five of the NSCAA Coaches’ Poll for the last eight weeks. Carolina, which earned the program’s highest ranking (No. 2) earlier this season, has spent the last six weeks ranked in the top three, and it has been in the poll’s top 10 since Sept. 20. The Gamecocks are also currently listed in the top 10 by Soccer America (No. 4) and TopDrawerSoccer.com (No. 6).
The SEC Champion Gamecocks dominated the league’s postseason awards, earning three major accolades to go along with seven all-conference honors. Shelley Smith was tabbed the league’s Coach of the Year, while junior forward Savannah McCaskill (Offensive Player of the Year) and senior center back Kaleigh Kurtz (Defensive Player of the Year) were also honored. Smith’s accolade marked her third Coach of the Year award, and McCaskill, the 2014 SEC Freshman of the Year, became the second player in school history to garner Offensive Player of the Year honors. Kurtz is the third Gamecock to be named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
South Carolina’s five First-Team All-SEC honorees (McCaskill, Kurtz, midfielder Chelsea Drennan, defender Paige Bendell, goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski) led the league and were the most in one year in school history. Senior striker Sophie Groff was also recognized, as she was named to the Second Team All-SEC. In addition to her First-Team honors, Krzeczowski was selected to the Freshman All-SEC squad.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
South Carolina’s 2-0 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 23 gave the Gamecocks their third SEC Championship. Carolina won the 2009 SEC Tournament before capturing the league’s regular-season title in 2011. The Gamecocks, who did not trail in conference play this season, outscored league opponents 22-3 during the regular season. South Carolina became the third school in league history to boast an undefeated conference record following its 2-0 win over Ole Miss (Oct. 27). With the victory, the Gamecocks matched Florida’s 11-0-0 league record in 2008 for the top SEC mark in conference history.
Since 2013, South Carolina boasts a record of 39-5-1 in matches played at “The Graveyard”. The Gamecocks recorded the program’s first undefeated home season (11-0-0) in 2013, and they have gone 146-54-12 overall at Stone Stadium, good for a .717 winning percentage. Carolina, which won all of its matches at Stone Stadium during the regular season for the third time in school history, has outscored opponents 35-3 at home in 2016.
REGULAR SEASON CLEAN SHEET
South Carolina, which sports the second-best winning percentage (.929) nationally, was the only team to finish the regular season unbeaten among the 334 NCAA Division I schools. The Gamecocks went undefeated (6-0-1) in non-conference play for the first time since 2013, and they finished the regular season unbeaten on the road (6-0-1) for just the second time in program history. The Gamecocks are the only SEC school ever to finish the regular season undefeated, non-conference and conference matches included.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Carolina’s defense paved the way to its 2016 SEC Regular-Season Title. The Gamecocks boasted shutouts in eight of their 11 league matches, allowing just one goal on the road in conference action. Carolina conceded just three goals overall in league play, and the Gamecocks ranked first in the SEC in goals allowed (7) and shutouts (11). Their 0.42 goals against average currently leads the league and ranks seventh in NCAA Division I. South Carolina has limited an opponent to three or fewer shots on goal 16 times this season.
SOUTH CAROLINA AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
South Carolina sports an all-time mark of 25-56-12 against ranked opponents. The Gamecocks have gone 9-6-2 against teams ranked in the top 20 over the last four seasons, and Carolina has earned three victories over top-25 foes in 2016, topping No. 6 Clemson (Sept. 3), No. 11 Arkansas (Oct. 9) and No. 17 Florida (Oct. 16).
A STREAK TO REMEMBER
South Carolina’s loss to No. 15 Florida on Nov. 2 snapped the best stretch in program history. The Gamecocks boasted the longest winning streak (18) and longest unbeaten streak (19) in school history. Both streaks bested the previous program records that were set in 2009 when South Carolina won 11-straight matches and began the season 13-0-1. South Carolina’s current six-match winning streak in true road games is its longest ever, and the team’s 17 regular-season victories in 2016 were its most ever in one season.
ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
The Gamecocks trailed for just 85 seconds during the regular season, falling behind 1-0 against UCF (Aug. 28) following a penalty kick. South Carolina has headed into halftime with the lead in 10 games this year, and 11 of its victories have come by at least two goals. The Gamecocks have scored in the opening 15 minutes of a match 10 times in 2016.
MCCASKILL’S RECORD-SETTING PACE
Junior Savannah McCaskill’s first of two tallies in the SEC quarterfinals against Texas A&M (Nov. 2) gave the striker 15 goals in 2016, the most in one season by a Gamecock. The Chapin, S.C., native boasts 17 goals on the year, and her 45 points are also a program single-season record. She boasts five multi-goal games this season, and her 10 game-winners in 2016 are the most in one year in school history. McCaskill’s 11 assists this year are the third-best single-year total by a Gamecock, and the forward ranks third in total points and sixth in total goals in Division I.
PLAYING FOR A CROWD
South Carolina leads Division I in home attendance, averaging 2,970 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 (32,673) among Division I schools.
A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
First-year goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski, who has started 18 of South Carolina’s 21 matches in 2016, ranks first in the league and eighth in Division I in goals against average (0.45). She also tops all conference goalkeepers in save percentage (.852) and shutouts (10). Her 10 clean sheets are the most by a freshman goalkeeper in school history and good for the third-most in one season by a Gamecock. The Douglasville, Ga., native’s goals against average also ranks second among true freshmen in Division I.
COMING UP CLUTCH
Forward Savannah McCaskill ranks second in Division I with 10 game-winners this season. She has tallied the game-winning goal in each of Carolina’s last four victories, and the junior is one of five Gamecocks to notch double-digit game-winners (12) for her career.
The winner of Thursday’s match between Carolina and Colorado will advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament to face either No. 4 ranked BYU or 25th-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday at Stone Stadium. Kickoff this weekend is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.