For the third time in four seasons, South Carolina women’s soccer team stood on the edge of making the first College Cup in program history Friday night.
These Gamecocks didn’t miss their chance.
South Carolina knocked off Florida 2-0 at Stone Stadium to advance to the Final Four for the first time. They’ll play Stanford in Orlando on Dec. 1 for the chance to face Duke and the winner of UCLA-Princeton game.
“We’re so excited to be moving on,” Gamecocks coach Shelley Smith said in the postgame news conference. “It’s an amazing feeling. Definitely thrilled.
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“In awe. I don’t have the words to express what we’re feeling.”
The Gamecocks became the third USC team since March to make a Final Four, joining the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Penn State transfer Grace Fisk headed in a corner from Lindsey Lane in the 32nd minute to give USC the only lead it needed.
Lane added a second tally in the 76th minute off a Breukelen Woodard assist to give her team some breathing room.
“I saw an open opportunity,” Lane said. “Breukelen laid off a great ball to me and fought off the defender for it. Just tried to hit it on target.”
Gamecocks keeper Mikayla Krzeczowski turned away four shots, as Florida held a 13-7 edge in shots and a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal.
The Gamecocks (19-2-1) had topped the Gators (17-7-0) 1-0 in October to take a second SEC title in a row.
USC had reached this round in 2014 and 2016. The Gamecocks fell at Florida State 5-0 in the first trip and lost 1-0 to North Carolina last season.
Smith has led the Gamecocks for 17 seasons. Before this year, she’d led two SEC champions and eight NCAA teams in nine seasons. She saw something special in her current group.
“The team is made up of players that love each other, fight for each other day in and day out, and you see that on the field,” Smith said. “And win or lose, there’s ups and downs.They stay together.”
Stanford is the top offense in the country, averaging 3.73 goals per game, nearly 0.7 more than the No. 2 team. USC boasts a top-10 defense, allowing .42 goal a game.
But Friday night, the Gamecocks were just focused on the history they’ve made.
“It’s just really a testament to how hard every single person on this roster has worked to get us to where we are,” Gamecocks forward Savannah McCaskill said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”