On a senior night, the No. 9 South Carolina women’s soccer team (6-1-0) defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 2-0. With the win, the Gamecocks have won six consecutive games in this shortened regular season.
"It feels pretty damn good," senior midfielder Lauren Chang said. "Every win that we get is obviously a big deal, but tonight was special because we talked about it in the pregame huddle, about how this night and this game was the last time that exact group of girls was going to play together."
In the first half, South Carolina had its fair share of scoring opportunities but couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. In the 27th minute, senior forward Ryan Gareis was on the breakaway in Mississippi State (2-2-3) territory but missed the goal as the ball went wide right.
Six minutes following Gareis’ missed opportunity, she had another chance to break the ice but missed the net with a shot that went out top.
In the 63rd minute, the Bulldogs made a mistake that led to a South Carolina penalty kick. They caught a break, as senior defender Anna Patten missed on a shot that went over the crossbar.
However, in the 68th minute of play, Gamecock freshman forward Corinna Zullo, the younger sister of senior Luciana Zullo, scored the first goal of the evening, which came during a corner kick. On the play, an assist came from a fellow freshman, forward Ranya Senhaji. For Zullo, this was her first goal of the season.
While this was a huge play from the Gamecocks, they got into trouble in the 71st minute when Mississippi State junior midfielder Niah Johnson was given a penalty kick opportunity. Prior to tonight, Johnson was a perfect 5-for-5 in these scenarios. However, South Carolina sophomore goalkeeper Heather Hinz came up with a big save to preserve the team’s one goal advantage as time moved on.
In the 81st minute, the Gamecocks would close the book on the game when Senhaji scored the first goal of her career. On the play, there were two assists, which came from Gareis and Chang. The goal gave them a 2-0 lead over the Bulldogs.
"I thought we did a good job of changing the half to make ourselves closer to what our team is about and how we should look when we go out on the field," head coach Shelley Smith said postgame.
South Carolina will travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 6 at Regal Soccer Stadium. If the Gamecocks win, it will be their seventh in a row.