Gamecocks Ready for LSU in SEC Tournament Semifinals
#17 Women’s Soccer vs LSU
COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 17 South Carolina (13-4-1, 6-3-1 SEC) takes on LSU (12-6-1, 5-4-1 SEC) on Fri., Nov. 2, at 3:30 p.m. ET in the semifinals of the 2018 SEC Tournament. Every match of the SEC Tournament can be seen on the SEC Network.
LAST TIME OUT – TEXAS A&M
No. 17 South Carolina women’s soccer (13-4-1, 6-3-1 SEC) defeated No. 13 Texas A&M (15-4-1, 6-3-1 SEC) 2-1 in the opening round of the 2018 SEC Tournament, avenging its regular-season finale loss to the Aggies just five days earlier.
Luciana Zullo scored the gamewinner at 52:10 to help the Gamecocks advance to the SEC semifinals for the first time since 2016. After falling behind in the opening half for the first time this season, the Gamecocks took just 1:03 to respond. Senior Simone Wark drew a foul in the box to set up sophomore Lauren Chang to nail a penalty kick to knot the score at one.
“I was really proud of the team today,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “They really battled, and they came here to play and avenge a loss at home to Texas A&M. We were able to turn it around and play better in the second half and got a goal early to take the lead and were able to close it out, which was something we had struggled with at the end of the regular season.”
“It was a great team win,” Zullo said after the match. “We fought the whole 90 minutes. We came out in the first half and didn’t play the soccer we wanted to but came out in the second half as a completely different team. This win does mean a lot.”
SOUTH CAROLINA IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
South Carolina made its SEC Tournament debut on Nov. 5, 1998, against Florida. This season marks the 17th time the Gamecocks have appeared in the SEC Tournament, holding a record of 8-14-5 and a record of 3-8-2 against ranked opponents. South Carolina has won the SEC Tournament once in its history back in 2009 when it defeated LSU on penalty kicks, 8-7.
South Carolina has gone to penalty kicks a total of five times in the SEC Tournament and has advanced in four of those five matches. The last time the Gamecocks went to penalty kicks in the SEC Tournament was on Nov. 5, 2015, against No. 19 Auburn, which they lost 5-3.
LSU (12-6-2, 5-4-1 SEC) won its opening match in the SEC Tournament over Missouri in overtime, 3-2. The Tigers advanced to play No. 2 seed Tennessee in the quarterfinals where they upset the Volunteers on penalty kicks. Four of LSU’s last five matches have gone to overtime.
Sophomore Adrienne Richardson has played all 20 matches for LSU and has scored a team-high seven goals while adding a pair of assists for a total of 16 points. Her 70 shots easily leads the team and is the third most in the SEC this season by an individual. Alex Thomas also has scored seven goals this season, including a hat trick in the match against Missouri to begin the SEC Tournament. Offensively, LSU sits in the middle of the SEC in goals, assists and total points.
Senior goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier has started all 20 matches for the Tigers this season and owns a goals against average of 1.04, the eighth best in the SEC this season. Brockmeier’s 93 saves this season ranks her first in the SEC. She has allowed a total of 22 goals this season with seven coming in the last five matches.
LSU was selected to finish 11th in the SEC in the preseason coaches’ poll.
“UPSET” FILLED 2018 SEC TOURNAMENT
Through two rounds of action, the Gamecocks are one of just four remaining teams in the 2018 SEC Tournament. Arkansas (No. 4 seed) is the highest seed remaining in the bracket after taking down No. 5 seed Ole Miss 4-0 on Tuesday night. SEC regular-season champion Vanderbilt fell in the opening round to No. 8 seed Florida 1-0 to allow the Gators to advance to the semifinals. LSU won its second match of the 2018 SEC Tournament by taking down Tennessee, the No. 2 seed, in penalty kicks 7-6 prior to the Gamecocks defeating No. 3 seed Texas A&M.
The SEC handed out postseason awards last Sunday with junior defender Grace Fisk being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season.
Fisk, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist in 2017, has served as the catalyst for the Gamecock defense this season. She aided in nine shutouts since returning to the South Carolina lineup after her time at the U20 Women’s World Cup earning a bronze medal with her native country of England. Fisk scored a gamewinner against Kentucky and added an assist in the 3-0 victory. She anchored a Gamecock back line that was clinical throughout league action. The Gamecocks did not allow more than five shots on goal in each of the last nine matches.
HONORING THE BEST
The SEC named All-SEC First and Second teams along with the All-Freshman Team. South Carolina had a total of five combined between those teams, including Grace Fisk and Mikayla Krzeczowski on the All-SEC First Team. For Krzeczowski, the All-SEC First Team honor is the second of her career, and the third time she has been honored by the conference (All-SEC Second Team in 2017).
Krzeczowski has remained among the elite in net in her junior campaign. She posted shutouts in seven of Carolina’s 10 league matches. The nine shutouts this season for the Douglasville, Ga., native are the most in the SEC. Her 0.49 goals against average is the second best in the SEC.
Lauren Chang earned her first career All-SEC honor as she was selected to the second team. The sophomore was a force in the attacking third for the Gamecocks after netting a team-high six goals this season, including three in league play. The sophomore midfielder registered gamewinners against Clemson (Aug. 23) and Tennessee (Sept. 16) and added an assist on the game-winning goal against Missouri (Oct. 18). Her 14 points and 29 shots are the second most on the team this season.
Jyllissa Harris along with Selma Sol Magnusdottir were both selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team for their outstanding play this season. Magnusdottir led the Gamecocks with a total of 15 points and three game-winning goals. Harris appeared in all 17 matches, starting 15, and played every minute of 10 different matches this season. She was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 10 after netting a goal and an assist against both Purdue and Wake Forest.
This season, South Carolina has kept its schedule as tough as they come in the country. Against seven 2017 NCAA Tournament participants, the Gamecocks own a 6-2-1 record. The Gamecocks also earned a draw with South Florida in exhibition play, another participant in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
WE DO IT FOR THE FANS
South Carolina averaged 2,509 fans this season, the second most in the NCAA this season. The Gamecocks are one of just three teams to average over 2,000 fans in each of the past five seasons. The match earlier this season against Clemson (Aug. 23) held a total of 6,354 fans at Stone Stadium; that is the most of any one soccer match during the 2018 season (second is San Jose State at Portland with 4,409 on Aug. 24).
If South Carolina should advance past the SEC semifinals, the Gamecocks will play in the SEC Tournament final on Sun., Nov. 4, at 2:00 p.m. ET in Orange Beach, Ala. The other semifinal match is between No. 8 seed Florida and No. 4 seed Arkansas. Following the SEC Tournament, South Carolina will then wait for the NCAA Selection Committee on Mon., Nov. 5, for any potential NCAA Tournament matches. The start time for the Selection Show is still to be determined.