South Carolina women’s soccer lost to Arkansas 2-1 in the SEC Tournament semifinals in a rematch from the regular season, which Carolina won. It was the Gamecocks' third straight appearance in the semifinals, but they could not overcome the two-goal deficit to advance to their second finals in a row.
Both teams began the game attacking, which made for a back-and-forth first half. South Carolina had seven shots and Arkansas had six at the half.
“It was a good match, our team battled. You know, unfortunately, we gave up a goal right before half," head coach Shelley Smith said.
The first goal of the game was in Arkansas’ favor and came in the 44th minute. Freshman defender Caroline Brooks scored her first career goal as she got a clean look on goal after Gamecocks’ goalkeeper Heather Hinz attempted a save on a shot that was blocked by a Gamecock defender and wound up at Brooks’ feet.
It was the first time this season that the Gamecocks had gone into halftime losing, and they were not able to right the ship during the break, despite a great look on goal that narrowly missed wide left at the beginning of the second half.
In the 53rd minute, Arkansas grew its lead on a goal from freshman forward Emilee Hauser, who hit a shot from the top of the box into the upper left corner of the goal, just out of reach of Hinz.
South Carolina scored in the 66th minute on a goal from freshman forward Ranya Senhaji, who was assisted by fellow freshman Rylee Forster, cutting the Razorbacks’ lead to one with less than 25 minutes left in the match. It was Senhaji’s second goal of the season.
“I thought we did well to come back and close the gap and just didn’t have enough time,” Smith said.
Arkansas’ redshirt senior goalkeeper Taylor Beitz held strong, finishing with one goal allowed and four saves. Hinz finished with two goals allowed and six saves for South Carolina.
It ended as a very offensive game for both teams, with Arkansas recording 15 shots and South Carolina recording 13. Arkansas had six corner kicks, and South Carolina had nine.
“I think we showed a lot of heart, and we really relied on some really young players. They got some great experience,” Smith said. “You know, a lot of freshmen came in the game and gave us a lift and started and came up off the bench with goals, and they’ve been doing that all year.”
Smith also said the team would build off of these performances in preparation for next season.
“Credit to our senior class, who has been leading [the team] all year. I’m really proud of the entire team effort,” Smith said.
The Gamecocks finished their all-SEC schedule with a 7-3-0 record.