The momentum the No. 14 South Carolina women’s soccer team was searching for going into the postseason disappeared in a split second against No. 15 Texas A&M on Thursday night in the regular-season finale.
Ally Watt headed in a goal with 17 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Aggies a 1-0 victory. The loss is the second in a row for the Gamecocks, both coming in overtime and running their record to 0-3-1 in extra time this season.
“When we’ve made it to overtime, it’s because of a lack of scoring on our end,” South Carolina coach Shelley Smith said. “We’ve put ourselves in good situations. We were all over an opponent again tonight and it just didn’t fall for us. You let a good team hang around like that and eventually they’ll get one.”
South Carolina (12-4-1) finishes in a four-way tie for third place in the SEC but likely will earn a No. 4 or 5 seed in the SEC tournament on Tuesday in Orange Beach, Alabama. Three of the team’s four losses have come in overtime.
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“It carries over from the last game,” Smith said. “We’ve got a young group, and they’ve done very well, but they have to step up and forget about the last game and understand we can be better and learn from our mistakes.”
Junior defender Grace Fisk believes something is missing once the Gamecocks reach the extra time.
“Obviously, we haven’t done great in overtime this year, and it’s disappointing,” Fisk said. “We look over it in film and work on it in practice, but it’s clear something is missing at the moment. We go into it positively and stay calm and relaxed but clearly it’s not happening for us right now.”
This loss was even more frustrating given the way the Gamecocks dominated in regulation. South Carolina outshot the Aggies 12-8 during that time, and that included a 9-4 advantage in the second half. Once things moved to the first 10-minute overtime period, Texas A&M (15-3-1) outshot USC 5-1 and finally tallied one goal late in the period.
Watt, who played for the United States at the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, headed a corner to herself then headed it in for the game-winner. It was her 13th goal of the season.
“They made something out of nothing there really,” Smith said. “That’s what we didn’t do the entire game. We have to be better in the final third, we have to be better in moments and better in overtime to make sure we put the ball out of danger in dangerous situations.”
It was a struggle offensively for both teams in the first half. The Aggies led in shots on goal 4-3 but only a couple of those were close. The first-half shutout allowed the Gamecocks to finish the regular season without giving up a goal in the opening 45 minutes.
South Carolina has scored two goals in its last four games and has to right the ship going into the postseason.