The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina upsets No. 7 Duke

Gamecocks also defeated UNC-Wilmington on Friday to complete weekend sweep

Over the weekend, the South Carolina women’s soccer team took a big step forward in putting last season’s disappointing campaign behind them.

The Gamecocks opened their 2013 campaign with two home games, beating UNC-Wilmington 2-0 Friday and stunning No. 7 Duke, 1-0, Sunday night.

“It’s huge to have Duke come in here and to beat such a tremendous team,” coach Shelley Smith said. “I’m so proud of our girls who showed that they wanted to win.”

The victory over the Blue Devils marked the first time South Carolina has beaten a top-10 team since the Gamecocks took down a 10th-ranked UNC-Greensboro team on Nov. 12, 2010.

The game’s only goal came in the 34th minute when the ball shot out of a collision between freshman Daija Griffin and a Duke defender, landing at the foot of senior Danielle Au who slotted the ball into the back netting.

“I was telling one of my teammates before the game ‘I’ll probably get like two or three chances and I have to finish one of them,’” Au said. “So I just took a deep breath and shot it in the far post.”

Au’s pregame prediction proved correct, registering her goal with just two shots total in the contest. Chances were scarce for the USC team as a whole, as they were out-shot by Duke 12-5 on the day.

Au’s strike against the Blue Devils was her second goal of the opening weekend; she netted the game-winner against UNC-W in the 10th minute of the contest before sophomore Stevi Parker knocked in the insurance goal in the 54th minute.

Prior to the start of the season, Smith said that for her team to be successful, it would need quality minutes right away from several freshmen. With two games in the books, the coach is satisfied with what her young team has shown her.

“They’ve lived up to my expectations,” Smith said. “We knew that they had talent and we needed some help offensively, and the way they’ve come in and complimented our returning players has been tremendous.”

One of those freshmen, Griffin, played more than 40 minutes in each of her initial two games with the team and recorded the assist on Au’s goal in the win over Duke.

“[Griffin] is great. She has a ton of potential,” Au said. “When we’re on and we’re combining, it looks really dangerous for us.”

While South Carolina looks to improve on last year’s 7-10-4 record, the upset win over the Blue Devils will play no small part in an increased confidence going forward.

“It was a huge team effort, and the seniors down through the freshmen, they all played a huge role in keeping the play up for the 90 minutes,” Smith said. “It’s a credit to the entire team. It was a real team effort.”


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