No. 3 Gamecocks Resume SEC Slate Friday With Top-25 Match At No. 18 Ole Miss
BY: TYRIA GOINES
COLUMBIA S.C. — No. 3 South Carolina women’s soccer (9-1-0, 3-0-0 SEC) resumes SEC play this week when it faces No. 18 Ole Miss (9-1-1, 2-1-0 SEC) on the road on Friday, Sept. 29. Kickoff for Friday’s top-25 battle is slated for 8 p.m. ET at Ole Miss Soccer Stadium, and the match can be seen on SEC Network.
The Rebels have paced the SEC on both ends of the field this season. Ole Miss leads the league and NCAA Division I in goals (43) and points (119), and its three goals allowed and 0.27 goals against average both stand as the top marks in the conference. The Rebels sport a mark of 6-0-1 at home this season, and Friday will mark their second match against a ranked foe in 2017. Ole Miss fell to then-No. 7 Florida 1-0 (Sept. 14) on the road.
Junior CeCe Kizer and freshman Channing Foster spearhead the Rebel attack with 10 goals each. Their scoring outputs rank first in the SEC and second among NCAA Division I players, while Kizer’s 27 points also top the conference and stand as the second-best total nationally. Junior forward Mary Kate Smith marks the third player with double-digit points (10) this season for an Ole Miss team that ranks fourth in the country with 20.18 shots per game. Redshirt junior Marnie Merritt sports six shutouts on the year after appearing in 10 of the Rebels’ first 11 contests of 2017.
The Gamecocks held Tennessee to just two shots on goal, and Carolina out shot the Volunteers 17-10 for the game.
Freshman midfielder Lauren Chang netted a goal in the 95th minute to give South Carolina a dramatic 1-0 victory over No. 21 Tennessee in this past Sunday’s (Sept. 24) top-25 battle at Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks pushed their winning streak to seven games and remained atop the SEC standings with the win.
Chang notched the game-winning tally after Carolina earned a free kick near the top of the attacking third. Gamecock senior striker Savannah McCaskill’s pass into the box found center back Grace Fisk, who used her head to flick the ball towards the front of the net. Fisk’s pass fell to Luciana Zullo, and the Carolina freshman attacker took one touch with her chest to create a dangerous loose ball. Chang took advantage of the opportunity and stretched her left leg out to poke a shot past Tennessee goalkeeper Shae Yanez.
South Carolina has won seven of its last 10 matches against Ole Miss. The Gamecocks, who hold an all-time mark of 10-5-3 in the series, have gone 4-3-2 when facing the Rebels on the road.
“It’s going to be a great match-up. Coach (Matt) Mott has done a great job with that team, and they have some quality players. We know it’s going to be a battle in Oxford. We need to slow down their attack that has been very effective this year. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best game – we just need to prepare and match their intensity,” said South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith.
South Carolina stayed at No. 3 in Tuesday’s United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Gamecocks, who have spent four weeks inside the top-five this season, have been positioned in the top-15 in each of the last 18 installments of the poll dating back to last year. South Carolina has earned a top-10 ranking 14 times over that stretch. The Gamecocks entered the fall with the program’s highest preseason spot after being listed at No. 4 in August.
South Carolina returns to action next week when it plays host to Mississippi State on Thu., Oct. 5. The match, which can be seen on SEC Network, gets underway at Stone Stadium at 7 p.m. ET.