The Daily Gamecock

Equestrian dispatches No. 6 Georgia

South Carolina hands Bulldogs just 5th loss in program history

From an outsider’s perspective, Saturday’s equestrian meet between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 6 Georgia had a clear favorite, even if the meet was in Athens, Ga. The Gamecocks were the top-ranked team in the country and had won their last three matchups.

But a closer look would reveal that a Gamecock victory was anything but a given. Georgia’s equestrian team rarely loses in its own backyard. In fact, South Carolina handed the Bulldogs just their second home loss in program history two years ago en route to a Southern Equestrian championship.

In addition, Georgia came into the weekend 3-1 in the SEC while South Carolina was 1-2 and had defeated the Gamecocks in Blythewood back in October on a tiebreaker.

So the Gamecocks were not fooled by the No. 6 ranking and got the fight they expected from the Bulldogs. A close meet throughout, South Carolina used a late surge to upend Georgia 10-9 to improve to 8-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC.

The win was the Gamecocks’ third-consecutive victory at Georgia and South Carolina has now handed the Bulldogs three of their five home losses in program history.

“We went in there knowing that we could compete with Georgia,” coach Boo Major said. “Whenever you have an away meet, the odds are not in your favor to win, especially at a place like Georgia that is a little bit of a hostile environment.”

Major said her team has been “unflappable” of late and said that is one of the main reasons the Gamecocks have had recent success in Georgia, despite the outside distractions.

Trailing by two points, the Bulldogs won two consecutive points in the hunt seat ring to knot the score at six. But junior Katherine Schmidt and redshirt freshman Samantha Smith won the next two points to give the Gamecocks an 8-6 lead going into the final event, reining.

South Carolina kept the train rolling with a victory by sophomore Sarah Bouchard to begin the event. Next up was junior Cody McMillion with a chance to clinch the victory for the Gamecocks. She responded with a 74.5-72.5 win over her opponent that earned her a MVP and her team a much-needed win to get back on track in the SEC.

“We all knew that Georgia was definitely not a No. 6 team,” McMillion said. “It’s never an easy meet for us. It’s always neck-and-neck. So my mentality was that I was going against the No. 1 team. I definitely did not look at anything as an easy win and everything was about just going in there and making sure I did my absolute best to beat them.”

McMillion said she was nervous before her ride, but also said that is not uncommon for her, and she uses it to her advantage.

“I always get nervous,” McMillion said. “I think [having] nerves is something that helps you to get better. If you’re not nervous and not focused, then that is when you make mistakes, when you lay back and just assume that you’re going to win and it’s all going to go great.”

Saturday’s victory puts South Carolina in a comfortable spot as it heads into the final stretch of the regular season. The Gamecock’s two remaining SEC meets are both at home, and they have two weeks to prepare for Texas A&M, who also holds a win against South Carolina this season.

But Major said that despite the win, her team still has some things that they can work on as they return home.

“There were still mistakes made at Georgia that we need to correct,” Major said. “The Texas A&M meet will be our first home meet in a long time so we’ve got to make sure that we’re up to speed and ready to host a home meet again. It’s been too long since we’ve had a Saturday competition out at our place.”


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