No. 3 South Carolina Welcomes Mississippi State To Stone Stadium Thursday

BY: TYRIA GOINES

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 3 South Carolina women’s soccer (10-1-0, 4-0-0 SEC) aims for its ninth-straight win when it hosts Mississippi State (7-1-3, 1-1-2 SEC) in a conference home match set for Thursday, Oct. 5. Kickoff at Stone Stadium is slated for 7 p.m. The match  can be seen on SEC Network+.

The Bulldogs, with only one loss going into Thursday’s game, are unbeaten in their last three matches in a stretch highlighted by a 3-1 win over Missouri on Sept. 21. Mississippi State sports a mark of 1-1-1 in away matches in 2017, and this week will be its first contest against a ranked foe this season.

Bulldog sophomore forward MaKayla Waldner leads the attack with 12 points on six goals, while junior attacker Brooke McKee ranks second on the team with four tallies. Graduate student Catalina Perez has played every minute in net for Mississippi State, which ranks sixth in the conference with a 0.771 goals against average.

The Bulldogs’ 22 goals this season stand as the fourth-best scoring output in the league, and their 60 points are good for the seventh-highest mark among conference members.

South Carolina enters Thursday’s match as the only SEC team to not allow a goal in conference play. The Gamecocks have notched clean sheets in seven of their last eight matches, allowing just one goal over that stretch. Carolina, which has conceded more than one goal just once in 2017, ranks fourth in the league with a 0.49 goals against average for the season. The Gamecocks have allowed three or less shots on target six times for the year.

South Carolina topped No. 18 Ole Miss 2-0 in last Friday night’s top-25 battle (Sept. 29) at Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.

Elexa Bahr’s goal in the 10th minute was set up by senior Savannah McCaskill, who charged towards the box after gathering the ball near the top of the attacking third. The striker drew the attention of a pair of Rebel defenders and alertly slipped a well-placed pass to Bahr near the right side of the box. Bahr took one dribble before slotting it home with a right-footed hit that beat Ole Miss goalkeeper Marnie Merritt.

Ryan Gareis stretched the Carolina lead to 2-0 in the 60th minute following a beautiful strike from 18 yards out. The first-year forward found the back of the net on a well-hit attempt from the top left corner of the box, firing a perfectly-placed shot that beat Merritt.

The Gamecock defense, which has yet to concede a goal in SEC play this season, shined and held Ole Miss to just three shots on frame for the night.
Carolina is 10-4-3 against Mississippi State in a stretch that dates back to 1996. The Gamecocks, who are unbeaten in their last 10 games against the Bulldogs, sport a mark of 7-2-1 in home matches in the series.

South Carolina continues SEC play this weekend when it faces Arkansas on the road on Sun., Oct. 8. Kickoff for Sunday’s match is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET, and the match will air on ESPNU.

South Carolina soccer matches are included in the Athletics Department’s clear bag policy for all ticketed athletics events in a move designed to provide a safer environment and more expedited entry for fans. The new policy will limit the size and type of bags that may be brought into South Carolina Athletics events. Information on the Clear Bag Policy and other Game Day Policies can be found at GamecocksOnline.com.

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