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Gamecocks Travel to Elon for Thursday Night Matchup
Women's Soccer  . 

Gamecocks Travel to Elon for Thursday Night Matchup

#13 Women’s Soccer at Elon

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 13th-ranked University of South Carolina women’s soccer team (9-3-0, 6-2-0 SEC) heads to Elon on Thursday for the program’s first road test of the 2021 spring season. The match kicks off at 6 p.m. at Ruggs Field with a broadcast available to watch on Elon’s YouTube page. 

South Carolina women’s soccer (9-3-0, 6-2-0 SEC) cruised past Coastal Carolina (7-8-0, 7-6-0 Sun Belt) 3-0 on Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium. The trio of Ryan Gareis, Jyllissa Harris and Catherine Barry scored in the victory with Heather Hinz and Taylor Fox both contributing to the shutout over the Chanticleers.
“To limit teams to what we have so far this spring is just special,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “Our team has done a great job to stay organized on the defensive end and communicate well with a different back line with Jyllissa [Harris] leading the way back there. Offensively, we knew coming off the fall that we were getting opportunities but were not capitalizing on those as much as we would of liked. To see that improvement here in the spring has been great, we obviously want to put more away if we are going to create this many opportunities but saying that it is just a positive to see what we’ve been able to do so far.”
It took just 46 seconds for the Gamecocks to get on the board against Coastal Carolina with Gareis notching the score. The senior received a perfect long pass from Lauren Chang and delivered a pinpoint shot on frame to score the eventual game-winning goal. The opening-minute goal goes down as the second-fastest goal in school history just edging out the previous mark of 48 seconds held by Paige Bendell back in 2016.
Elon (2-1-0, 1-1-0 CAA) is fresh off a 1-0 overtime win over James Madison on Sunday with Kayla Hodges earning the CAA Defensive Player of the Week honor for the Phoenix. Senior Carson Jones is the lone student-athlete to have multiple goals this season for Elon with her goal against Mount Olive being the gamewinner in the fifth minute of the match. Freshman McKenna Dalfonso has played every minute in goal for the Phenoix this spring making five shots while facing a total of 25 shots in three matches.
South Carolina women’s soccer freshman forward Catherine Barry was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season after her performance against Coastal Carolina, the conference office announced March 22.
The Hingham, Mass., native scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season in the 3-0 dominant win over Coastal Carolina on Sunday. The rookie also assisted on an insurance goal for the Gamecocks, adding to her team-leading 13 points this year. Her multi-point performance is the third of the season and ties her for the most among active Carolina student-athletes in a career. South Carolina has now earned a total of six weekly SEC honors this season and has won each of the three weekly honors twice including Barry’s two Freshman of the Week nods.
On top of Anna Patten leaving the Gamecocks for the professional ranks the Gamecocks will look different for multiple other reasons. Defenders Sarah Eskew and Caitlyn Leffler both will not be available in the spring due to injury while four additional Gamecocks have moved on from collegiate soccer to pursue internships, graduate or other professional development opportunities. In total Carolina begins the spring season with 20 healthy student-athletes.
The Gamecocks have had an influx of young talent this season with nine of the 20 goals scored this season coming from true freshmen. Four Carolina freshmen have scored multiple goals this season with Catherine Barry leading the way with five while Corinna Zullo has scored three of her own. Of the Gamecocks 69 points this season, 43.5 percent of that have come from freshmen, the second highest percent in the SEC behind just Texas A&M.
Despite the turnover on South Carolina’s roster this season the Gamecocks have remained near the top of many conference rankings this season. The Garnet and Black average the most corner kicks in the SEC this season with an average of 6.5 per match. The defense also ranks near the top of the conference with a goals against average of 0.90 this season, good enough for the No. 2 spot. Carolina also is third in the SEC this season with an average of 15.5 shots per match.
The latest United Soccer Coaches top-25 rankings dropped the Gamecocks down to No. 13 in the country despite the dominant victory against Coastal Carolina. South Carolina has been ranked in the last 10 national polls that have now returned to the top 25 format after only have the top 15 during the fall portion of the season. Carolina has been in the last 54 United Soccer Coaches Polls that have used the top 25 format.
Three other SEC teams are inside the top 25 with Vanderbilt sitting at No. 6 followed by Arkansas at No. 15 and then Texas A&M at No. 23.
Shortly after graduating from the University of South Carolina, senior defender Anna Patten struck a professional deal with her young program, Arsenal, of the Women’s Super League in England. Patten joins former Gamecock Grace Fisk (West Ham United) in the ranks of English professionals. Patten left Carolina with one SEC Championship and multiple All-SEC honors, including a First Team nod in the fall of 2020.
Redshirt sophomore Samantha Chang made her Senior National Team debut with Canada at the 2021 She Believes Cup on Feb. 21, against Argentina. After earning the roster spot in camp, the Mississauga, Ontario, native helped the Canadians win their match over Argentina. Chang entered the match in the second half with the score locked at 0-0 and helped keep Argentina out of goal and eventually Canada found the back of the net in extra time.
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.
South Carolina has a long wait before its next match due to the cancellation of its match with Appalachian State. The Gamecocks host in-state rival Clemson on April 10, at 6 p.m. The matchup will be limited to fans with only Gamecock Club members, Familia FC members and past season ticket holders eligible for tickets. Additional instructions have already been already emailed to those qualified fans.
– The Gamecocks matchup with the Phoenix is the first between the two programs in history
– The trip to Elon, N.C. for the Gamecocks is roughly 200 miles from Columbia, S.C.
– The road matchup for Carolina is the first of such kind during the spring portion of the season, the Gamecocks will also travel to Chapel Hill for a match with UNC in April
– Now former South Carolina women’s soccer player Meredith Christopher started her career at Elon before transferring into the Gamecocks’ soccer program in 2018