Two Early Goals Pace Gamecocks In 3-0 Win Over Vanderbilt
Oct. 15, 2017
No. 3 Women’s Soccer vs. Vanderbilt
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A pair of early goals from strikers Savannah McCaskill and Elexa Bahr and a second-half tally from freshman forward Luciana Zullo lifted No. 3 South Carolina women’s soccer to a 3-0 victory over Vanderbilt Sunday night at Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks (13-1-0, 7-0-0) stretched their winning streak to 11 matches and stayed atop the SEC standings with the win over the Commodores (9-5-1, 4-5-1).
Carolina quickly established control of the contest after netting two goals in the first eight minutes. McCaskill opened the scoring in the sixth minute on a beautiful strike from distance, as the Chapin, S.C., native collected a pass from senior midfielder Lindsey Lane and fired a shot into the top left corner of the net past Vanderbilt goalkeeper Taiana Tolleson.
With the goal, McCaskill moved into a tie for first with Jennie Ondo (1996-99) for the most game-winners (16) in program history.
The Gamecocks pushed their lead to 2-0 two minutes later when McCaskill threaded a well-placed through ball to Bahr near the top of the attacking third. Bahr collected the pass and raced into the box before slipping the ball under Tolleson to double Carolina’s advantage. The Buford, Ga., native’s six tallies in 2017 are tied with McCaskill for the most among Gamecocks.
Zullo provided the exclamation point in the 80th minute when she gathered the ball near the left side following a poor clearance attempt by the Commodores. The first-year forward charged towards the box and chipped home a great shot from 20 yards out, floating the ball over a leaping Tolleson to make it 3-0.
Carolina put on a clinical defensive performance, and Vanderbilt was limited to three shots for the game. The Commodores put just one attempt on frame against a Gamecock team that fired eight shots on target throughout the match.
The Gamecocks pushed for more midway through the first period, and freshman Lauren Chang created a scoring chance in the 26th minute. The midfielder danced around multiple Commodore defenders near the left side of the box before ripping a shot from close range. Her attempt was quickly blocked by a member of the Vanderbilt back line, and the danger was cleared.
In the 56th minute, Carolina saw a pair of chances to go up 3-0. Lane produced the first opportunity when she struck a well-hit shot that deflected off Tolleson’s hands. The loose ball fell to Gamecock senior striker Meaghan Carrigan, whose rebound attempt dipped towards net before missing high.
South Carolina boasted a commanding 14-3 shot advantage and attempted four of the match’s six corner kicks. Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski, who improved to 13-1-0 on the season, needed to make just one save before earning her 21st career shutout. The Gamecocks improved to 5-14-5 all-time against the Commodores and notched their fifth home victory over Vanderbilt with the win.
“This team has just stayed together — they prepare each week, and they’re focused at training. That’s what you hope for, and they’ve done a great job to commit to what we want them to do. It’s a team defensive effort, and our back four has been organized all year. We didn’t give them many opportunities tonight because we did a good job of possessing once we won the ball.” — South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
Carolina quickly established control of the match following tallies from forwards Savannah McCaskill and Elexa Bahr in the opening 10 minutes. The Gamecocks moved to 11-0-0 this season when scoring first.
The Gamecock backline stifled the Vanderbilt attack throughout the night, and the Commodores managed just one attempt on frame for the match. South Carolina has yet to allow more than three shots on target in SEC play this season.
- South Carolina is now unbeaten in eight of its last nine matches against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks have recorded five wins during the stretch.
- The Gamecocks have earned a clean sheet in six of their seven SEC matches this season. Carolina has outscored conference opponents 13-2 for the year.
- Senior attacker Savannah McCaskill’s tally in the sixth minute marked the second-fastest goal for Carolina this season. McCaskill found the back of the net in the third minute against Wake Forest on Aug. 24.
- With a goal and an assist Sunday, McCaskill moved 10 points shy of Kayla Grimsley’s all-time school record of 119.
The Gamecocks continue SEC play next week when they face Missouri on the road on Thu., Oct. 19. Kickoff from Audrey J. Walton Soccer Stadium is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen on SEC Network+.