Gamecock Women's Soccer Stunned in SEC Quarterfinals
No. 3 South Carolina women’s soccer saw its 14-match unbeaten streak snapped after falling to eighth-seeded Arkansas 1-0 in the SEC Quarterfinals Tuesday night at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. The Gamecocks dropped to 15-2-1 overall on the season with the loss.
Top-seeded Carolina suffered the setback despite producing the majority of the scoring chances throughout the contest. The Gamecocks finished the match with a 20-3 shot advantage and attempted 10 of the game’s 13 corner kicks.
Arkansas went ahead 1-0 in the 53rd minute on just its second shot on goal of the game. Defender Tori Cannata was credited with the goal after deflecting a shot from fellow Razorback Taylor Malham. The deflection snuck the ball into the right side of the net and gave Arkansas a 1-0 advantage.
The Gamecocks pushed for an equalizer over the next 30 minutes and generated several chances down the stretch. In the 61st minute, a Carolina corner kick created a loose ball that eventually fell to Elexa Bahr. The sophomore attacker quickly took a shot that hit off the left post and went out of bounds.
Gamecock striker Ryan Gareis nearly provided the equalizer in the 79th minute when Carolina sent in a dangerous pass into the box. The service fell to the feet of the freshman, whose shot attempt sailed high. Six minutes later, a poor goal kick resulted in a chance for Savannah McCaskill from 10 yards out. She collected the ball near the top of the attacking third and raced into the box before hitting an attempt that missed high.
The Gamecocks saw two more chances in the final five minutes with the Razorback defense on its heels. Carolina freshman center back Jackie Schaefer’s cross from the right side found Bahr at the far post, and the sophomore striker’s one-time attempt went wide. The Gamecocks again hit the post in the 89th minute when freshman forward Luciana Zullo’s one-time effort from the top of the box hit off the crossbar.
Carolina tested the Arkansas defense early, putting three shots on frame in the opening nine minutes. All three attempts came in the eighth minute in a stretch that was started by a shot from senior forward Meaghan Carrigan in the box. McCaskill floated a beautiful pass to the attacker, who one-timed a shot that fell to the hands of Arkansas goalkeeper Jordan Harris. Seconds later, Gareis gathered a loose ball and raced towards the left side of the box before ripping a shot that called for an acrobatic save from Harris. Carolina’s ensuing corner kick eventually led to a chance for Schaefer, who hit a shot that headed towards net and appeared to produce a goal. The ball was cleared off the line by an Arkansas defender though, and the Razorbacks were able to kick the loose ball away.
The Gamecocks, who boasted a commanding 8-0 shot advantage in the first half, nearly opened the scoring 10 minutes later when McCaskill attempted a free kick from 24 yards out. The Chapin, S.C., native sent in a curling effort that required a diving save by Harris near the left post. In the 25th minute, McCaskill found some space near the top of the box and rifled a shot that was blocked immediately.
Carolina limited the Razorbacks to just two attempts on frame, while each team committed 12 fouls. Schaefer, McCaskill, Carrigan and Gareis all registered a shot on goal in the game.
“Credit to Arkansas for coming in and battling after just playing a game. They made it difficult. It’s one of those disappointing games when you have more opportunities and you can’t find the back of the net. We put ourselves in good positions and had near misses. We need to be better and get ready for the NCAA Tournament.” – South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
The Razorbacks tallied the lone goal of the match in the 53rd minute, scoring off a deflection. The tally was just the fourth goal conceded by the Gamecocks in the last 10 matches.
After putting four shots on frame in the opening 45 minutes, Carolina was unable to record an attempt on target in the second half.
• This season marked the 16th appearance in the SEC Tournament for the Gamecocks. Carolina has reached the event in each of the last 11 seasons.
• Tuesday’s loss snapped Carolina’s 12-match unbeaten streak against the Razorbacks.
• South Carolina’s 10 corner kicks against the Razorbacks marked a season-high.
• The Gamecocks finished a game with at least 20 shot attempts for the sixth time in 2017.
The Gamecocks will learn their NCAA Tournament first-round opponent next week. The NCAA Selection Show is set for Mon. Nov. 6, at 4:30 p.m. ET.