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USC's soccer title hopes vanish

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 13 South Carolina women's soccer team looked as if donned Halloween costumes a day early, because for 90 minutes Friday the Gamecocks didn't look like the SEC juggernaut that had climbed the rankings the past two months.

With the SEC East title on the line against 10th-ranked Florida, USC was trounced 3-0.

The Gators' McKenzie Barney scored two goals, giving her four in her past three games, and the Gators earned their fourth consecutive conference trophy in front of 3,104 fans at Pressly Stadium. It was the most goals scored on USC this season.

As the clock ticked to zero, Florida mobbed the field, passing around and posing with a large SEC championship sign. Before leaving the field, the six Gator seniors gathered and held up four fingers to symbolize their tenure at the school.

"The seniors are the girls that I came in with, and I wanted to win it for them," junior keeper Katie Fraine said.

Barney's goals, both assisted by freshman Erika Tymrak, came five minutes apart in the first half. The first came in the 19th minute when a Tymrak shot caromed off of the cross bar and bounced back on the field, where Barney headed in a shot from four yards.

In the 24th minute, Tymrak stole a pass in the box, centered the ball in front of the net and passed to Barney after faking a shot. Barney navigated Gamecock defenders before knocking it to the left of keeper Mollie Patton from 7 yards.

The Gators sealed the win in the 87th minute when Holly King headed in a Lauren Hyde free kick from 28 yards as the home fans chanted "S-E-C" and players doused their coaches in ice water.

"We knew it was going to be a bloodbath from the beginning, and (South Carolina) really came out hard, too," said Barney, who missed last season after tearing her right ACL in preseason training camp. "I think, in the end, the better team won, but both teams put up a great fight."

The squads had six shots each in the first half, but aside from a few free kicks that ended in sensational saves for Fraine, South Carolina (15-3-1, 7-3-1 SEC) never put a fright into the home team. Florida finished with an 11-8 shot advantage - the second-fewest shots for the Gamecocks in game this season.

"Once we had that bad weekend (Oct. 2-4, with a tie against Mississippi State and a loss to Mississippi), all those games after that were must-win games," said Florida coach Becky Burleigh, who will lead her team into the SEC tournament next week in Orange Beach, Ala. "It was really a big credit to our team to step up under that pressure."