After losing key offensive players from last season, the South Carolina women’s soccer team is looking to find its speed in tempo in two specific players this season as its talent develops.
Top returning goal scorer Elexa Bahr and freshman Jyllissa Harris have proven themselves to be a powerhouse for the Gamecocks on offense. In the eyes of defensive player Grace Fisk, South Carolina doesn't look like a young team struggling to find fluidity in their play.
On Sept. 6, the duo carried their team to a 2-0 victory over Wake Forest after both scored pivotal goals that helped their team maintain a five-game win streak at home.
Head coach Shelley Smith has found comfort in Harris stepping up into a dominating starting role for South Carolina, which is just what they needed to develop their attacking third.
“I think they both are learning how to play together more," Smith said. "Elexa's coming back from injury and she hasn’t been out there that often, but she’s starting to play more and more minutes and doing the things that we know she can do. I think the more that she can play with Jyllissa the more they'll learn what their strengths are and how they can connect.”
For Bahr, Harris’ role has allowed the team to improve their tempo while maintaining composure. As South Carolina heads into regular season conference play, they will be able to look for strong finishes coming from these two.
“Great player, freshman coming off,” Bahr said. “She’s just great on the field, very soccer smart and a little bit she reminds me of Sav, Savannah McCaskill, playing with her just very soccer smart. She knows where I’m running, I know where she’s going to play the ball and it just really helps to have another player like that.”
Finding the missing link in their offensive scheme is essential for South Carolina to match up with tough opponents in the SEC. Bahr and Harris' patience has brought maturity to a young team, and the addition of Harris has been vital to the midfield's level of movement and quick transitions.
As Smith struggled to cement her starting lineup, Bahr and Harris made the development much more natural. Smith credits Harris’ leadership for helping the team grow with each game.
“Big credit to her and then obviously to get points by finishing goals, serving balls for us, she’s been key, a big part of our midfield and plays beyond her years, so credit to her to what she has done to prepare to play,” Smith said regarding Harris's quick growth on the field.
So far, Bahr and Harris have scored a total of ten points for South Carolina in 2018. As chemistry continues to grow for the Gamecocks, Smith and her team will look to these offensive players to finish games and lead their team to new records.