With a 2-0 win over Ole Miss Thursday night, the No. 2 South Carolina women’s soccer team (17-0- 1, 11-0-0 SEC) completed an undefeated regular season for the first time in program history.
The victory came on Senior Night for the Gamecocks and extended the team’s program-record 17-game winning streak.
“They had a lot of emotion, excitement and distractions with Senior Night, but they overcame that and came out here and did the job,” coach Shelley Smith said. “The confidence they have going forward is amazing. They did not want to share the SEC and they don’t have to do that.”
USC junior forward Savannah McCaskill led the way offensively and set the program record for most points in a season (35) with her goal in the 18 th minute. McCaskill’s goal was quickly followed by one from senior forward Sophie Groff, who beat Rebels’ goalkeeper Marnie Merritt one-on-one in the 19th minute to put the Gamecocks up 2-0.
“Going forward, our counter attack has just been unstoppable this year,” McCaskill said. “Everyone as a whole team has just really been there, and has helped me score goals and just score goals as a team on offense.”
South Carolina’s dynamic offense in the first half was accompanied by a strong defensive effort. The Gamecocks allowed 10 shots on freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski. Krzeckzowski finished with one save in her ninth shutout of the season.
“Our backs play that much better because of the confidence they have in the goalkeeper. She’s come up with huge saves when we needed her to all season,” Smith said of Krzeczowski. “There’s times when we know something is coming at the goal, she’s got a good chance to stop it.”
The victory over the Rebels marks the first time in Smith’s 19-year coaching career that her team has gone undefeated in the regular season. According to McCaskill, completing an undefeated regular season was not one of the goals for the Gamecocks prior to the season.
“The goal was just to win the SEC and, honestly, the SEC has been known for, you know, you can usually lose a few games and still win,” McCaskill said. “But it was just after eight games, 8-0, 9-0, 10-0, we got over that midseason hump, and we’re just like okay, we can do this.”
The Gamecocks clinched the regular season SEC title Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Tennessee and will travel to the SEC Tournament as the top seed. The Tournament begins Monday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Ala.