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Women's Soccer Headed to Orange Beach to Defend Title
Women's Soccer  . 

Women's Soccer Headed to Orange Beach to Defend Title

#10 Women’s Soccer vs. Missouri

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 10th-ranked University of South Carolina women’s soccer team (6-2-0, 6-2-0 SEC) is headed to Orange Beach, Ala., for the 2020 SEC Tournament, aiming to defend their 2019 SEC Tournament title. The tournament takes place at the Orange Beach Sportsplex, with the Gamecocks’ match with No. 5 Missouri scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 17, on SEC Network. 

Then-No. 9 South Carolina women’s soccer (6-2-0, 6-2-0 SEC) fell to Tennessee (4-3-1, 4-3-1 SEC) 1-0 on the road on Friday night. The Volunteers scored early in the second half to defeat the Gamecocks in Knoxville for the first time since 2007.
“We had plenty of opportunities tonight, and we put ourselves in position, we just missed by some small margins,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “Unfortunately one didn’t go our way tonight, and sometimes that is just the game of soccer sometimes. Our team did a great job to compete and get opportunities in front of the goal and settle the game. Ultimately, it just didn’t go our way.”
Tennessee scored the match’s lone goal in the 50th minute when senior Wrenne French headed the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Heather Hinz. Despite giving up the goal, the Gamecocks have only given up multiple goals two times in the last 43 matches dating back to 2018.
The loss for Carolina snaps a six-match winning streak dating back to the season opening loss to Georgia, which was also a 1-0 defeat on the road. With the win, Tennessee was able to claim the SEC East Division title, and the No. 2 seed in the 2020 SEC Tournament.
The Gamecocks hold an 11-15-5 mark all-time at the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks won the 2019 SEC Tournament by not allowing a goal while scoring four of their own in three victories in Orange Beach. The Gamecocks also won the 2009 SEC Tournament, winning on penalty kicks in the final against LSU. The Gamecocks have reached the semifinals nine times in program history and have reached the final three times.
Missouri (4-2-2, 4-2-2 SEC), the No. 5 seed, is coming off a 2-1 victory in the second round of the SEC Tournament over Florida. After having their final regular season match cancelled, the Tigers are on a three-match winning streak, with two of those over Florida. A trio of midfielders have led the Tigers’ attack this season with Bella Alessi, Cassidy Nurnberger and Macy Trujillo having a combined 10 of Missouri’s 15 goals this season. Carolina will be familiar with Missouri’s keeper Isabella Alessio. The keeper was the starter in the Gamecocks’ 4-1 win back on Sept. 27. Julissa Cisneros was the Tigers’ lone All-SEC selection, the junior forward was named to the Second Team and led Missouri to an SEC-leading 16.71 shots per match during the regular season.
The Southeastern Conference announced the 2020 All-SEC teams along with the conference awards on Thursday with four Gamecocks being named. Anna Patten and Jyllissa Harris were both named to the All-SEC First Team for the first time in their careers while Lauren Chang was named to the Second Team.
Catherine Barry was named to the All-Freshman team after her impressive rookie campaign. Chang also was named the Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year, just the second time a Gamecock has earned the honor in program history. The last being Blakely Mattern in 2009. The Gamecocks have now had at least four named on All-SEC teams for five straight seasons.
This year’s SEC Tournament is unique with all 14 SEC teams competing for the right to represent the SEC in the NCAA Tournament as the conference’s automatic qualified team. Arkansas is the No. 1 seed after winning the SEC West Division while Tennessee is the No. 2 seed and Texas A&M, the Co-SEC Regular Season Champions, are the No. 3 seed and have all earned double byes alongside the Gamecocks.
Every match will be seen on SEC Network, with matches beginning on Nov. 13 and concluding on Nov. 22 in Orange Beach, Ala., at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
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.
Five 2021 recruits officially signed their National Letter of Intent on Nov. 11. The Gamecocks signed two four-star recruits in forward Payton Patrick and midfielder Lily Render along with a pair of three-star recruits in midfielders Brigitte Bussiere and Megan Spiehs. Emma Bucci rounded out the Gamecocks 2021 recruiting class, an in-state defender with international experience with Ireland.
After starting the season outside of the altered United Soccer Coaches rankings, the Gamecocks entered the top 15 on Oct. 13 and haven’t looked back. Carolina reached as high as No. 9 and enter the postseason as the No. 10 ranked team in the country.
Four other SEC teams are inside the top 15 with Arkansas sitting at No. 7 followed by Texas A&M at No. 8 and then Carolina at No. 10. Both Tennessee and Ole Miss entered the top 15 in the latest poll, with Tennessee sitting at No. 13 and Ole Miss at No. 14.
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 SEC Tournament is the conclusion of the Gamecocks, and the SEC, fall season. South Carolina, along with the rest of the conference’s teams, will return in the spring of 2021 to conclude the season that will culminate with an NCAA Tournament that will begin on April 30 and conclude on May 17.
– South Carolina has at least one match in each of the last two SEC Tournaments, highlighted by their SEC Tournament Title in 2019
– 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
– The Gamecocks have not lost by multiple goals at the SEC Tournament since 2007 (Georgia, 2-0) with every other match either coming down to penalty kicks or a one-goal loss
– Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the only two conference opponents the Gamecocks haven’t met at the conference tournament (since 1998)