Gamecocks reach SEC Tournament Finals with 2-0 win Thursday night
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Off the head of Sutton Jones and the right foot of Luciana Zullo, No. 7 South Carolina women’s soccer (15-1-3, 7-0-3 SEC) advanced to its first SEC Tournament final since 2010 with a 2-0 win over Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks shut out the No. 2 seed Commodores to reach Sunday’s final against No. 1 seed Arkansas.
“Obviously we are thrilled to be moving on,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “We’re excited to get the win tonight against a great Vanderbilt team. I’m really pleased that we were able to pick up some early goals. They did a great job at keeping us under pressure in that second half, but we did a great job at limiting their quality chances tonight.”
The shutout win is Carolina’s second in the SEC Tournament and sends the Gamecocks into a rematch with Arkansas. The Gamecocks defeated the Razorbacks earlier this season at Stone Stadium 1-0.
Jones’ gamewinner came in the 31st minute, putting the Gamecocks ahead via a corner kick launched by junior midfielder Claire Griffiths. The goal for Jones, her second of the season, was struck down in front of the Commodores keeper ending up in the bottom left corner of the goal. The game-winning goal for Jones is the first of her career and is her first career SEC goal.
The goal broke a scoreless drought between the two squads that dated back to Oct. 15, 2017, the last goal coming from Zullo during Carolina’s 3-0 win.
Just 11 minutes later the Gamecocks added to their lead. Zullo one-timed a right-footed shot after a magnificent setup pass from junior midfielder Lauren Chang. Zullo chased down the ball on the right side of the box and buried it to the left side to double Carolina’s lead in the first half. The goal for Zullo is the fifth of the season and matches her career high in a season she set in 2017.
“Sutton did a great job at coming across and finish after a great delivery,” Smith said. “Then with Lauren Chang found the opposite side to find Luciana on the back side. It was a great touch by her, and what a finish. That’s what we needed and I’m glad to see her net such a beautiful goal.”
Defensively South Carolina was stout all night long. Goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski was only forced to make one save during the match to earn her 46th career clean sheet. The 46th shutout for Krzeczowski moves her into a tie for seventh most all time in NCAA women’s soccer history.
South Carolina takes on Arkansas (16-2-2, 8-1-1 SEC) on Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. The match can be seen on SEC Network.