In a game with an abundance of close calls, No. 12 South Carolina (4-0) found a way to get the job done, securing a 1-0 victory against Boston College on Thursday night.
Freshman forward Payton Patrick scored the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute to give the team its fourth consecutive win.
After the game, Patrick described the game-winner as being an "ugly goal."
"We've been talking about it all season. We score a lot of pretty goals, but Jamie [Smith]'s been talking about how we need to be scoring ugly goals as a team," Patrick said. "In the game when Corinna [Zullo] kept the ball alive in the box, I was just like, 'this is my opportunity, it's not going to be pretty, but I just need to get it in the back of the net.'"
The Gamecocks had a lot of opportunities to score, but were unsuccessful in doing so for a majority of the night. This was due in part to Boston College freshman goalkeeper Wiebke Willebrandt's ability to keep the game under control. Overall, she saved six of seven shots on goal.
When the offense was struggling, it was Heather Hinz who gave the team an opportunity to win by holding the opponent scoreless. The junior goalkeeper saved all three of the Eagles' shots on goal and has surrendered only one goal, bringing her save percentage to .900 for the season.
Following the win, head coach Shelley Smith spoke very highly of her goalie's shutout performance.
"Very solid. She's started out the season and given us some really good minutes," Smith said. "When she's called upon, she's made the saves, she's come up big for us. She's done well to clear balls and keep things out of danger and limit teams to chances. Very happy with her performance and she's continuing to do what we need her to do in goal.“
The second half looked to be heading in the same direction as the first 45 minutes did for South Carolina: plenty of shots were taken, but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. That was until Patrick's first career goal at the collegiate level gave the team the lead for good.
"It's always a relief to see the ball go in the back of the net," Smith said. "I think we had some good chances that were putting them under pressure and when you get one in there, it's definite relief."
Before heading to play in-state rival Clemson next Thursday, the Gamecocks will host the Charlotte 49ers on Labor Day at Stone Stadium. This game will be broadcasted on SEC Network+ at 7 p.m.