Photo: Claire Albrecht / The Daily Gamecock

Luciana Zullo leads women's soccer to overtime win over Mississippi State

Luciana Zullo made sure the No. 3 South Carolina women’s soccer team kept its win streak intact against Mississippi State on Thursday at Stone Stadium. 

The freshman led the Gamecocks to a 3-2 overtime win over the Bulldogs behind two goals, including the equalizer and the game-winner in the 95th minute. 

“I saw someone that had a lot of confidence taking the game on her shoulders, beating somebody and having a great finish,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “She’s consistently done that for us. Great job by a young player as a freshman. She was playing very well in that game. We kept her in in the overtime and she did the job we thought she could do.” 

The Gamecocks had to overcome not one, but two deficits created by the Bulldogs in the match. Mississippi State midfielder Payton Gruenewald scored the first goal of the match on a header in the box past keeper Mikayla Krzeczowski in the fourth minute. It was the first goal the Gamecocks had allowed in SEC play this season. 

Sophomore defender Grace Fisk answered for USC in the 49th minute, scoring her first goal of the season on a loose ball in the box. 

Mississippi State regained the lead when forward Brook McKee scored in the 80th minute, leaving the Gamecocks just 10 minutes of regulation to try and equalize. 

With fewer than eight minutes of regulation, Zullo tied the match with a goal off a header assist that hit the crossbar from senior striker Savannah McCaskill. Zullo kept that momentum heading into overtime, sealing the deal from the top of the box with her third goal of the season. 

With the win, the Gamecocks have won nine straight matches and are unbeaten in their last 11 games against the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks have won their last 17 regular-season games in a streak that dates back to 2015. 

“I told them that says a lot about this team,” Smith said. “It’s something where we can learn from and definitely get better for the next game. The fact that we still were able to find a way to win was just a tremendous job by this team.” 

Continuing conference play, the Gamecocks will travel to take on Arkansas at 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

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