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No. 9 Gamecocks Headed to Knoxville for an SEC Title Shot
Women's Soccer  . 

No. 9 Gamecocks Headed to Knoxville for an SEC Title Shot

#9 Women’s Soccer at Tennessee

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The ninth-ranked University of South Carolina women’s soccer team (6-1-0, 6-1-0 SEC) heads to Tennessee (3-3-1, 3-3-1 SEC) for a chance at an SEC Championship with a win on Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. The match will be aired as a one-camera shot on SEC Network + from Regal Soccer Stadium. 

No. 9 South Carolina women’s soccer (6-1-0, 6-1-0 SEC) took down Mississippi State (2-2-3, 2-2-3 SEC) 2-0 on Oct. 30, at Stone Stadium on Senior Night. The win kept the Gamecocks on top of the SEC standings with one match to go in the regular season.
Carolina’s goals came from a pair of freshmen with Corinna Zullo notching the game-winning goal in the second half. Fellow freshman Ranya Senhaji struck the back of the net for the first time for Carolina’s insurance goal in the 81st minute.
“Obviously very happy for our seniors, being at home for the last time this fall and getting the win,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “I think it was a tremendous team effort. We told the team how a lot of people played their roles tonight and that’s what helped to get through the 90 minutes tonight.”
The Gamecocks pushed their winning streak to six, the longest winning streak in the SEC, with the win over the Bulldogs. The win is the fourth win over 2019 NCAA Tournament opponents and marked a perfect 5-0-0 record in the month of October.
South Carolina women’s soccer sophomore Heather Hinz was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, the first of the sophomore’s career, the SEC announced on Nov. 2. The honor is the fifth straight week the Gamecocks have earned a weekly honor from the SEC.
“Heather has been playing very well and happy for her to be honored this week,” Shelley Smith said. “She’s been growing as a player every game as she gains more experience through this conference season. The players in front of her have done a great job to limit out opponent’s scoring chances, but she has come up with some great saves when called upon. The penalty save was a great example of that this past weekend.”
The sophomore from Laytonsville, Md., recorded a four-save shutout in the 2-0 win over Mississippi State, the second shutout of her career. She made clutch saves for the Gamecocks in the 71st minute, stopping a penalty kick and then made a second save in the sequence when a shot came off the rebound to keep the Gamecocks on top 1-0. The penalty kick save came off the foot of Mississippi State’s Niah Johnson, who had previously been a perfect 5-for-5 in her career, a Mississippi State record. 
The Volunteers (3-3-1, 3-3-1 SEC) have been an up and down team during the 2020 season. Tennessee has not posted consecutive wins this season, but has winning results against No. 10 Vanderbilt on Sept. 27 and a 2-1 win in Gainesville on Oct. 30. Redshirt-freshman Jaida Thomas has been the leader offensively, scoring three goals, including all of Tennessee’s gamewinners, in her first season on the pitch. Redshirt senior Erin Gilroy is the only other Volunteer to have multiple goals this season, scoring in losses against the Alabama and Texas A&M. Tennessee has had Lindsey Romig for the majority of the season in goal but added redshirt junior Jenna Rolfe midweek and made the start on short notice. Rolfe went on to make one save while facing 10 shots in the 2-1 win over Florida. Tennessee is winless against the Gamecocks since 2012, being outscored 11-1 since 2013 but earned a 1-1 draw in the last meeting in 2019 at Stone Stadium when the Volunteers scored with just 20 seconds remaining to stun the Gamecocks at home. Despite the win against the Gamecocks in 2012, the Volunteers haven’t beaten the Gamecocks in Knoxville since 2007. 
South Carolina women’s soccer freshman forward Corinna Zullo was named to the Team of the Week for her performance in the Gamecocks’ 2-0 win over Mississippi State.
The Gamecocks have been honored by the publication for six-straight weeks, including a National Player of the Week honor three weeks ago.
Zullo scored the game-winning goal for Carolina off the bench in their final home match of the 2020 season. The goal came in the 69th minute and is the second of Zullo’s career and the first gamewinner of her career.
The Gamecocks currently sit at the top of the SEC standings with 18 points and a 6-1-0 record. The Gamecocks have wrapped up a top four seed, or a double bye, at the 2020 SEC Tournament, allowing the team to rest until Nov. 17 when the quarterfinals will be played in Orange Beach, Ala. With 12 East Division points, or a 4-1-0 record within the division, the Gamecocks are also in need of a win over Tennessee to secure a top two seed at the SEC Tournament with Tennessee entering Friday’s match with 10 East Division points, or a 3-1-1 record against division opponents. In the West Division, the Arkansas Razorbacks have secured the division title and a top two seed.
The Gamecocks have had an influx of young talent this season with seven of the 15 goals scored this season coming from true freshmen. Three Carolina freshmen have scored multiple goals in 2020 with Catherine Barry leading the way with three while Rylee Forster and Corinna Zullo each having two this season. Of the Gamecocks 44 points this season, 43.2 percent of that have come from freshmen, the second highest percent in the SEC behind just Texas A&M (53.8 percent). 
For the second-straight week the Gamecocks came in at No. 9 in the United Soccer Coaches top 15 poll. The ranking is the highest this season for South Carolina, who are winners of six-straight. Despite the Gamecocks being on top of the SEC regular season standings through seven of the eight 2020 regular season matches Carolina still sits behind No. 7 Arkansas and No. 8 Texas A&M in the rankings. For the 2020 season the United Soccer Coaches poll has been reduced to just 15 teams, with no additional ‘teams receiving votes’.
As of July 30, 2020, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rules to allow student-athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues. Student-athletes of the South Carolina women’s soccer program chose to wear patches that read “Matter is the Minimum” on their right sleeve.
The Gamecocks chose to wear these patches because they want to use their platform as student-athletes to take a stand against systemic racism and social injustice. The team does not tolerate any form of racism and injustice and wants to do its part to make a change. Although these patches are small, they stand for a movement that is bigger than any game.
The Gamecocks will have a full week off before the start of the SEC Tournament on Nov. 13. South Carolina has earned a double bye in the tournament and will not compete until Nov. 17 with their opponent to be decided in the first and second rounds. All matches at the SEC Tournament will be televised on SEC Network.
– South Carolina has not lost to Tennessee since 2012 and has not lost in Knoxville since 2007 but Tennessee secured a tie in the latest meeting with a goal with just 20 seconds left in 2019 to earn a 1-1 draw
– The Gamecocks have had five different starting lineups this season with most changes in the lineup coming at goalkeeper or defender
– The 2020 season for the Gamecocks is the 25th season in program history with head coach Shelley Smith entering her 20th season as the leader of the Garnet and Black
– Senior Lauren Chang has scored against Tennessee in every match she’s played the Volunteers with two of them being game-winning goals for the Gamecocks