South Carolina women's soccer won its match against Arkansas 2-1 on Friday night, putting them at a record of 4-1 and solidifying a No. 1 ranking in the SEC East. The Gamecocks went up late in the first half but were equalized quickly on into the second. The Gamecocks would score the winner halfway through the second half to solidify the win.
In the first ten minutes, the ball was almost exclusively at the feet of Arkansas attackers and in South Carolina’s half. For the majority of the first half, the game was a defensive battle. The Gamecock backline kept Arkansas to only two shots on target in the whole first half despite Arkansas’ pressure at the start.
The Gamecocks' first goal came in the 37th minute from a cross from freshman Rylee Forster to freshman Corinna Zullo. Zullo got her head on it, and the ball came down at a difficult angle for the Arkansas goalkeeper. The shot scraped the bottom of the crossbar and snuck into the back of the net for Zullo's first career goal.
Arkansas started the second half strong and scored in the 57th minute. The Razorbacks sent the ball into the bottom corner after a deflected shot went bouncing around the six yard box. Arkansas kept the attacking pressure up but couldn’t put another goal past sophomore goalkeeper Heather Hinz. Hinz ended the game with 6 saves.
"Heather was fantastic in goal tonight," head coach Shelly Smith said in an interview with GamecocksOnline. "She was facing a lot of threats and Arkansas does a great job at striking from long range and putting service in the box and I thought our defense was strong all night and was able to clear the ball most of the time and when they didn't, Heather was there to clean it up."
The game wasn't tied for long. The Gamecocks scored their second goal in the 71st minute, when redshirt sophomore Samantha Chang scored off of a pass from redshirt junior Claire Griffiths. The goal gave the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.
"We had to break some pressure tonight and Claire did a fantastic job in the wide area to create that chance for Sam," Smith said. "Sam did a great job to run to goal, look for the ball and get in a position to score."
With the one goal lead late into the game, the Gamecocks sat back and played more defensive. At the 85th minute, they added an extra player to their defensive line to solidify the win. Arkansas applied heavy pressure in the last five minutes but couldn’t net a goal.
"We expected a battle and we got that tonight," Smith said.
This is the team's highest-ranked win in the program since 2007, and it marks Smith’s 299th career win.
The Gamecocks take on the Florida Gators next on Sunday, Oct. 25 at Stone Stadium.