The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks women's soccer prepares for upcoming SEC Tournament

Freshman midfielder Rylee Forster celebrates a goal with her teammates against Florida earlier in the 2020 season.
Freshman midfielder Rylee Forster celebrates a goal with her teammates against Florida earlier in the 2020 season.

The South Carolina women’s soccer team concluded its eight-game regular season schedule and now enters the 2020 SEC Tournament with a record of 6-2-0 as defending conference champions.

South Carolina secured the No. 4-seed in a COVID-19 shortened all-conference regular season. The Gamecocks earned a double bye in the SEC Tournament despite losing their final game at Tennessee. 

“Especially as freshmen, there were no cushion games to get used to the speed of play,” freshman defender Hallie Meadows said. “We knew that there were going to be no easy games this season, that every game had to be your 100%, your 110%.”

The Gamecocks scored 15 goals, nearly 1.9 per game, on the season while only conceding seven. Despite losing key seniors in goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski and defender Grace Fisk, South Carolina has maintained success on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore goalkeeper Heather Hinz had two clean sheets in six starts for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina finished 10th in the United Soccer Coaches Poll and went undefeated at Stone Stadium for 2020, winning all four home games. Freshmen players stepped up for the Gamecocks after coming from high school straight into an all-SEC slate of games.

“Somewhere I really wanted to make an impact was being able to kind of help increase our threat offensively and be able to kind of complement that back line that has been, and continues to be, so excellent,” freshman forward Catherine Barry said.

Barry led the team in goals with three and points with 7.

The 2020 senior class has been a contributing part of the women's soccer team with senior forwards Lauren Chang, Ryan Gareis and Luciana Zullo and senior defender Anna Patten playing in all eight regular season games and all starting at least seven. Gareis is tied for second on the team in goals and points with two and 5, respectively.

Head coach Shelley Smith, who is in her 20th season with the women's soccer program, is looking to guide her team to its sixth SEC Tournament semifinals appearance in eight seasons. She also led the Gamecocks to their eighth straight season with a winning record.

The Gamecocks, who bookended their regular season with losses, go into the SEC Tournament with the possibility to win the program's third SEC Tournament championship and repeat as champions for the first time in school history.

The Gamecocks open tournament play Tuesday in Orange Beach, Alabama, at 8:30 p.m., and the game will air on the SEC Network. The Gamecocks will play either No. 5 seed Missouri or the winner of No. 12 seed Kentucky and No. 13-seed Florida if the winner of that game defeats Missouri in the second round.


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