Smith said tie against Ole Miss felt more like a loss
The South Carolina women’s soccer team went back-to-back games without recording a win for the first time this season during their two game road trip this weekend. The Gamecocks lost 2-1 at Missouri on Friday night before drawing 1-1 at No. 24 Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon.
South Carolina (12-2-2, 5-2-1) slipped from a share of second place to a share of fourth place in the SEC standings after the weekend road trip. The Gamecocks now sit 1.5 games back of Texas A&M with three games to play.
“A tie feels like a loss when you’ve played well and you feel like you should’ve won a game,” head coach Shelley Smith said of Sunday’s draw with Ole Miss (12-3-2, 5-2-1). “The game showed the heart and determination we had. Coming off a disappointing loss on Friday, they came out and played well and played hard.”
Both games saw South Carolina jump out to the early advantage in ball control and shots only to lose the edge as the games went on.
Through 21 minutes against Missouri (7-7-2, 3-3-2) on Friday, the Gamecocks held a 5-0 shot advantage. At halftime of the Ole Miss game, South Carolina held a 9-0 shot advantage, five of which were on goal.
Despite the early pressure against Missouri, the Gamecocks were not able to capitalize on any of their first five shots. Shortly after, the momentum shifted to the Tigers. Missouri hit South Carolina’s defense with a barrage of chances that set up a corner kick in the 27th minute. Gamecock keeper Sabrina D’Angelo appeared to have a good chance to knock away Taylor Grant’s kick but the ball deflected off the wrong part of her hand into the back of the net after colliding with a couple Tiger bodies.
Smith noted the team was “frustrated giving up goals they knew they shouldn’t have given up,” despite playing well this weekend.
South Carolina limited Missouri to opportunities from far out early in the second half until the Gamecocks were able to regain possession. Freshman defender Paige Bendell’s first career goal served as the equalizer in the 72nd minute off an assist from fellow freshman forward Daija Griffin. Bendell is now one of ten Gamecocks to score a goal this season.
“It shows it’s a team effort every time we’re out there. Different people have stepped up at different times to win games for us,” Smith said.
However, Missouri took the lead for a good seven minutes, until striker Alyssa Diggs hit a curling shot inside the right post past a diving D’Angelo.
The loss, in which the Gamecocks outshot the Tigers 14-12, marked just the second time this season that South Carolina has surrendered more than one goal.
Freshman midfielder Chelsea Drennan made the most of the Gamecocks’ first opportunity on Sunday in the sixth minute when she drilled a close-range shot to the back of the net for the first goal of her career. Smith was happy to see her freshman’s hard work pay off.
“Chelsea’s been a huge factor all season starting in the midfield, assisting several goals, and getting chances for us,” Smith said.
After the Gamecocks dominated the first half, the Rebels brought heavy pressure on offense in the second half. South Carolina held off numerous Rebel attacks until Ole Miss finally prevailed in the 76th minute. The game went two overtimes before ending in a draw.
Despite a tough weekend, Smith said the team was still looking at the big picture.
“They know they’re still a good team and they’re going to take advantage of the opportunity for the next three games,” she said.