The Daily Gamecock

Women's soccer team, McCaskill look to end season with a win


The women’s soccer team has one more chance — one more 90-minute match to prove itself in its regular season schedule.

Returning home after two conference losses, No. 17 South Carolina sets up play against Tennessee at Stone Stadium.

Head coach Shelley Smith is still in disbelief about the Gamecocks double-overtime loss to Florida and is trying to refocus her team for this game after the 1-1 tie at LSU.

Although sophomore Savannah McCaskill managed to put South Carolina in the lead against Florida, a goal by Florida's Savannah Jordanin the 21st minute sent the two teams to not one, but two overtimes. The Gators managed to end the match 2-1.

The factors of road play and with the effects of the rain in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Gamecocks needed to adjust in the way they approached the game. The rain, however, stopped them from taking it into overtime.

“We had to change how we approached them, and we did. I thought we took to LSU in the second half and if we were able to go to overtime, I believe we would have found a way to win,” Smith said.

Tennessee has only lost once in road play and recently ended in a tie to Kentucky 1-1, similar to South Carolina’s tie with LSU.

The Volunteers are currently 7-4-6 overall and 3-4-3 in conference play. They are tied with Vanderbilt, Georgia and Kentucky in the SEC standings for eighth place. A win against the Gamecocks would guarantee them a spot in the SEC tournament.

South Carolina enters the game 11-4-2 overall and 5-3-2 in conference play. With the home field advantage, South Carolina is looking to beat Tennessee after not managing to finish through with its two recent games.

“At this point we’re just focusing on that one day,” Smith said. “There is nothing that matters except that one night, so our focus is getting the job done and playing the full 90 minutes.”

This season has been interesting for South Carolina as it lost one of its best players, junior forward Sophie Groff, to a partially torn ACL. The injury most likely will sit her on the bench for the remainder of the season, as they scheduled surgery for early October. To step up in her place and lead the team is McCaskill,and according to Smith, she has done just that.

Smith said although McCaskill was already receiving substantial playing time, she is now forced to play the entire 90 minutes almost every game because of Groff's injury.

“She’s out there, and we are putting a lot on her to create and give us opportunities, and she has done that consistently,” Smith said. “It’s always a team effort, but Savannah more times than not is going to find a way to either set someone up or finish when she is given the opportunity.”

The midfielder is currently tied for fifth in the SEC with 26 points and tied for sixth with 10 goals. To mention some of her freshman accomplishments like SEC Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-SEC is just the beginning because of her improvement in her sophomore year, according to Smith.

“She’s put the team on her shoulders several times and found the back of the net, and it makes a big difference to find someone who can score 10 or more goals for you,” Smith said.

The game against the Vols will start at 7 p.m. and will conclude the regular season schedule for the Gamecocks.

“We have just been missing that final ball in the back of the net, but we have put ourselves in chances of winning the game, so it will fall for us,” Smith said.