No. 18 South Carolina scored two goals in the final eight minutes of the first half and Kayla Grimsley earned her fifth game-winning goal of the season to lead the Gamecocks (13-2-3, 7-1-1 SEC) to a 3-1 win at Arkansas (5-9-3, 2-5-2 SEC).
The victory gives the Gamecocks their first unbeaten road season in school history with a 7-0-1 record away from Stone Stadium.
For a record 10th consecutive game, the Gamecock defense has limited an opponent to four shots on goal or less, a streak that dates back to the road victory at then-No. 22 Wake Forest and includes every SEC opponent of the season. Carolina held a 7-2 shots on goal advantage Thursday night.
With the win courtesy of goals by Grimsley, Rae Wilson and Ellen Fahey, Carolina improves its prospects for the SEC Tournament that will be held in Orange Beach, Ala., in two weeks. Currently tied for first in the league with Florida with two games remaining, South Carolina is now guaranteed to finish either first, second or third in the final conference standings, with either finish marking a program best for the Gamecocks.
Sophomore Rae Wilson notched her first career goal at 37:14 to put the Gamecocks ahead off an assist by junior Kira Campbell. Earning her third consecutive assist for Carolina, Campbell slid a ball into the box where Wilson came out the victor in a scrum of three players directly in front of the net. With her attempt rolling across the line, Wilson added a final touch to ensure goal number one in the game and her career.
Less than two minutes later, Grimsley slotted her league-leading and South Carolina junior record 11th goal with Wilson providing the assist at 39:09. The sophomore crossed a perfect ball into the box that Grimsley chested to the ground before splitting two defenders and launching it into the back of the net.
Ahead 2-0 at the half, junior defender Ellen Fahey grabbed her second goal in as many games with a header off a Brittiny Rhoades corner kick to make the score 3-0 Carolina at 54:43. The setup began with defender Christine Watts playing a ball into the box that sailed over a ducking Grimsley and to the feet of Danielle Au six yards out. Au’s initial shot was blocked and the follow-up was deflected out for the corner kick that eventually ended in Fahey’s goal.
Arkansas scored on its first shot on goal of the game with a blast by Kelsey Allison from 22 yards out at 65:55. The goal was reminiscent of Tennessee’s lone goal against South Carolina on Sunday with a shot in the upper corner that goalkeeper Mollie Patton dove but couldn’t reach.
South Carolina returns home Sunday for a nationally-televised match against the SEC West leading LSU Tigers, who dropped a 2-0 game against Florida Thursday night. The game between the Gamecocks and Tigers will kick off at 1 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU with Sam Gore and Cat Whitehill making the call.