COLUMBIA, S.C. - Junior Maria Petroni scored her first goal of the season and Kayla Grimsley grabbed her SEC-leading fourth assist of the year as No. 19 South Carolina (3-1-1) played Arizona State (3-0-1) to a 1-1 draw Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium. The game was the first overtime match at Stone Stadium since South Carolina defeated Auburn 1-0 last season.
Petroni scored off a header at 19:54 courtesy of assists from Grimsley and sophomore Christine Watts to put Carolina ahead 1-0 before Arizona State's Taylor McCarter hit the tying goal at 36:48. Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate Mollie Patton registered seven saves for the Gamecocks in another high-performance display between the pipes while Alyssa Gillmore tallied two saves for the Sun Devils. The assist moves Grimsley to 17 in her career, surpassing Angela Austin and Melinda Carter to move to No. 2 on the all-time South Carolina list behind Mindy Sanders.
South Carolina was able to ease two starters back into the lineup Sunday after each has missed time due to injury. Junior Ellen Fahey a three-year starter at centerback, missed both games last weekend but was inserted back into the starting 11 and played the full 110 minutes for Carolina. Junior midfielder Kortney Rhoades saw her first action of the year off the bench after an offseason injury held the regular starter out for South Carolina's first four games.
"Getting Ellen back was key," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "She's vocal, she steps well and organizes which are key things we ask from our centerbacks ... I was glad to get time in there for Kortney. She has hardly even trained with us. This is her first week back on the field, so for her it was great to see her out there. Her creativity is something we can use with her and Kayla playing off each other. It was nice to see her back and hopefully we can get more minutes from her soon."
The game between the two 2009 NCAA Tournament teams was different in both halves with the first providing both goals yet limited opportunities, while the final 65 minutes yielded many shots but no goals. The opening stanza was a possession game with the first shot for either team not coming until junior Kira Campbell took one in the 17th minute. The Gamecocks then had their second look just two minutes later with Petroni's goal. Grimsley took the ball in the corner and flipped it to Watts, who executed a perfectly placed cross that found Petroni's head for the goal.
Chances remained slim for the remainder of the half with the best opportunity for Carolina occurring in the 30th when Ali Glemser and Danielle Au made a run down the left flank together that ended with a Grimsley shot being saved by Gillmore. The Sun Devils would get on the board in the 37th minute by virtue of a hard strike by McCarter from 20 yards out for her first goal of the year.
Arizona State came out in the second half with a barrage attack on the Gamecocks with eight shots and two corner kicks in the opening eight minutes of the half. ASU's Devin Marshall and Karin Volpe both notched point-blank shots on goal within 10 yards that Patton grabbed out of the air to keep the score tied.
"I said to Mollie after the game that she put us in position to win it," Smith said. "She had keys saves and that's what you ask of your goalkeeper. We're going to be tested at times with good forwards and strong shooters. Mollie held her shots, got some corners and didn't let anything in. If she doesn't come up with those saves, it could have been a loss. Those key plays give us a chance."
Freshman Kayla Paoulos provided a spark off the bench in the 65th minute when she was able to split three Arizona State defenders and send a ball in front of the net. Brooke Jacobs took the opportunity but had both of her attempts blocked. South Carolina also had two looks in the penalty area in the 79th and 82nd minutes with Grimsley and Jacobs each getting balls in front of the net, but neither was able to put it on frame. With the clock ticking towards double-zeroes, Watts's ball to Danielle Au with 50 seconds remaining almost sealed the game for Carolina, but the cross just missed Au's head for the sure goal.
Both teams were able to get a few looks in the overtime periods as Arizona State had two shots on goal and South Carolina had one on goal in the extra frames. Fahey had a header miss slightly high in the 92nd while ASU's Volpe had a strike in the 93rd that required a diving save and catch by Patton. Neither team was able to capitalize as the game ended in the 1-1 draw.
South Carolina hosts the Carolina's Cup next weekend with Clemson, Furman and High Point travelling to Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks and Tigers will play Friday night at 7:30 p.m.