No. 20 South Carolina advanced to the NCAA tournament's second round for the second consecutive year after defeating No. 10 UNC Greensboro 2-1 Friday night at Klockner Stadium on the campus of Virginia.
The Gamecocks (15-5-4) went ahead just 2:15 into the match by an own goal, and freshman Danielle Au hit the game-winner 58 seconds into the second half.
The Spartans (19-2-1) entered the match riding a 16-match winning streak and a No. 10 ranking in the nation. With the victory, South Carolina improves to 3-1 in the all-time series and knock off their first top ten team since defeating then No. 8 Florida by a 1-0 score in last year's SEC Tournament semifinal.
"We're happy to advance in the NCAA tournament," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "We know we need to be better Sunday. It wasn't our best performance but I'm proud of the way our team found a way to win. They've been able to do that consistently throughout the season, and we know we can bounce back and give a top performance on Sunday."
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In an opposite tread of last week's SEC title match that saw Carolina lose on an own goal, the Gamecocks went ahead just 2:15 into the match courtesy of a Spartan own goal. Playing wide on the wing, Kira Campbell dumped it to Christine Watts who sent a cross square in front of the keeper and going just over Maria Petroni's head. Before a Gamecock could follow-up, a Spartan defender knocked the ball backward and it rolled into the net for the early Gamecock score.
Danielle Au made the lead 2-0 just 58 seconds into the second half with a rifled shot from 18 yards that curled into the upper corner of the net. The score was the fifth of the year for Au and her first since the Kentucky win on Sept. 26, 2010.
20 South Carolina will face No. 8 Virginia Sunday at 2 p.m. in the second round. The match is just the second ever between the Gamecocks and Cavaliers, who advanced with a 3-0 victory against Lehigh.