The farthest thing on South Carolina goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski mind Thursday night was breaking another record. But with her career-best sixth straight shutout in the Gamecocks 1-0 victory over Missouri, the junior stands alone in the SEC record books with 34 career clean sheets recorded.
It’s the Douglasville, Georgia native ninth shutout of the year and gives USC 12 on the season, including nine in the last 10 matches.
“I saw it (the record) on social media, but that’s definitely not my top priority,” Krzeczowski said. “Getting the shutout as a team is always number one. Making sure we do our job keeping the ball out of the back of the net then hopefully converting on the other side.”
The stellar defense in front of Krzeczowski has been crucial to her success. The Tigers finished with eight shots on goal with Krzeczowski recording four saves. Several of those chances came late for the Tigers. They had one shot that Krzeczowski was barely able to get a hand on to deflect away and another that deflected off the crossbar.
South Carolina coach Shelly Smith, in her 18th season at USC, has been blessed to have several high-profile keepers in her career and ranks Krzeczowski right at the top.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Smith said. “She’s deserving. She’s been outstanding, and tonight was a great example. She didn’t have a ton of shots at her, but when it mattered, she came up huge. She deserved that shutout.”
Sophomore Luciana Zullo scored the only goal the Gamecocks needed in the first half. She broke free on the left flank, received a pass from Lauren Chang and notched her first goal of the season in the 20th minute. She scored five goals as a freshman and was glad to finally see her scoring drought come to an end.
“The curse is broken,” Zullo said. “It was good to get my first goal of the season after being in a slump. It shows that anyone on our team can score on any given day. We don’t just have one player that is the only attacking threat.”
The record-breaking performance allowed No. 8 South Carolina (12-2-1) to keep pace in a crowded SEC race with two matches remaining in the regular season. The Gamecocks and Texas A&M came into Thursday’s action trailing league-leading Vanderbilt by one game.
South Carolina only has one senior on the roster and had to replace the bulk of its offense from a season ago. They are undefeated at home and are on a season-best six match unbeaten streak. They have a road game at LSU on Sunday with Texas A&M closing the regular season next Thursday at the Graveyard.
“I’m pleased with what the team has done all year to put us in this position,” Smith said. “It’s amazing. I probably wouldn’t have expected it when we started, just because I knew the changes we’ve had from last year. We’ve started the gel and come together and put a consistent product out there.”