After winning its SEC home opener against Georgia, the South Carolina women’s soccer team hit the road for a matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide and scored five unanswered goals. The Gamecocks won 5-2 on Thursday night at Alabama Soccer Stadium.
“Going down two goals early was definitely uncharacteristic of us, but it was nice to see us respond instead of let that put us in a downward spiral,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said in a postgame interview with GamecocksOnline. “It was a great job by us to respond and finish the half even. It is a credit to our team and their effort. It was a situation they had not been in yet and the way they responded in the second half, they really played well, and goals came because of it.”
With the win, No. 8 Carolina (8-1-0) remains undefeated in conference games this season. As the second highest-ranked team in the SEC, the team is on a mission to return to the NCAA Tournament and make it to the College Cup for the second time in three seasons.
In the early portion of this game, the Crimson Tide (5-4-1) displayed an aggressive offensive scheme. This was proven when Reyna Reyes scored a corner kick at the 11 minute mark.
Ten minutes after striking first, Alabama put a second goal on the board when Casey Wertz scored off of a rebound on her own penalty kick.
Right after Wertz put her team ahead by two goals, the Crimson Tide made a sluggish pass. This allowed the Gamecocks to take advantage of the mishap, and Ryan Gareis scored in the 23rd minute. This was Gareis’ third goal of the season.
After missing the entirety of non-conference play with a nagging leg injury, senior midfielder Rebecca Koch was inserted into a game for the first time this season. She started in every game for the Gamecocks in 2018.
At the 41st minute, Gamecocks midfielder Jyllissa Harris nailed a shot on a free kick that barely made it over the hands of Alabama goalie Alex Plavin. After being down by multiple goals at the beginning of play, South Carolina tied it up at two.
South Carolina’s offense caught fire in the opening minutes of the second half. Luciana Zullo scored at the 48 minute mark and Elexa Bahr scored at the 52 minute mark, putting the team ahead of Alabama. This goal, made from a long distance, was Bahr's fourth of the season.
Seventy two minutes into this matchup, Tatumn Milazzo put freshman forward Camryn Dixon in a great position deep in the box, and she tallied her first career goal in conference play. However, this milestone was all for naught, since Bianca Galassini instead was credited for the score with assists coming from Milazzo and Dixon.
The five goals scored tonight for the Gamecocks came courtesy of five different players. In addition, this was the most goals scored against an SEC opponent since Oct. 3, 2010, when they defeated Mississippi State 7-0.
South Carolina will be back at Stone Stadium Sunday at 2 p.m. against the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks (8-1-1). The game will broadcast live on SEC Network plus.