The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks, Spartans face off in first round of NCAA Tournament

The South Carolina women’s soccer team will face UNC Greensboro in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Stone Stadium on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. 

The Gamecocks come into this match with a 13-5-1 record, while UNC Greensboro has a 15-4-1 record. 

South Carolina earned a national seed for the third consecutive season, coming in at No. 3. The Gamecocks were a No. 1 seed in 2016 and 2017. This is the sixth-consecutive season that the Gamecocks will host a match in the NCAA Tournament. 

This is the 27th match all time in the NCAA Tournament for South Carolina. The Gamecocks won 13 of their previous 26 matches. South Carolina has also advanced in 13 out of 16 NCAA Tournament matches it has played at Stone Stadium.

“I think the fact that we are at home starting play here Friday night is a great advantage, and we are going to look to get off to a good start,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “I think we’ve been very good at home. It does help get you motivated, playing at your best.” 

The Gamecocks look to make a run for a second-straight College Cup appearance. South Carolina won four matches at Stone Stadium in the 2017 postseason, clinching its first College Cup bid in school history. 

“I think this team is ready to play,” Smith said. “We’re excited. It’s always a special time of year.”  

The Gamecocks have won or tied in 10 out of 11 matches against NCAA Tournament teams this season. UNC Greensboro is coming off its second-consecutive Southern Conference Tournament championship against Furman. South Carolina’s last match resulted in a 1-0 loss to LSU on Nov. 2 in the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Al. 

“Obviously coming off of some disappointing losses towards the end of our season, we know this is a new season,” Smith said. “They have the experience of last year to know how difficult it is.”  

Defense will be key for the Gamecocks, as they have allowed only two goals at home all season. The first goal allowed was against Purdue on Sept. 2, while the second goal came against Texas A&M on Oct. 25. The Gamecocks did not allow a goal in the first half of any match in the regular season.

“It’s not always the best team that wins,” Smith said. “It is the best team on that night, and we have to be prepared. I think we have the team capable of beating anybody. We’re going to have some challenges along the way for sure.” 

Friday's game will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus.The winner will play the winner of Penn State and Bowling Green in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 16.