The Gamecock women’s soccer team got an early goal lead and held off a second half rally from Auburn, winning 3-2 on Friday night.
The Gamecocks struck quickly in the first half, earning a goal off their first corner kick of the match. They went on to score two more goals — one more in the first half and the other in the second half — before Auburn struck back with two goals in the second half. The key to the Gamecocks' victory lay in their strong passing performance and early lockdown defense.
It took the Gamecocks just under four minutes to score, courtesy of a strike from senior midfielder Jyllissa Harris off a corner kick. This strike set the tone for the offense early on, as the Gamecocks shot for the goal three more times within the next 11 minutes.
The Gamecocks continued their early offensive dominance with another first half goal just before the 20-minute mark. Sophomore forward Catherine Barry found the back of the net off a cross by graduate forward Ryan Gareis, putting the Gamecocks up 2-0.
“We were executing our set pieces pretty well,” head coach Shelley Smith said postgame. “The fact that we created more chances and looked like we were going to score again, was wanting to put the ball in those areas so we could get those opportunities.”
The Gamecocks and Tigers held each other to a standstill goal-wise for the rest of the half but the consistent, solid passing performance in the midfield by the Gamecocks gave them the edge. Despite no exact possession stats being available, it was evident that the passing clinic by the Gamecocks made it difficult for the Tigers to find their offensive footing.
The Gamecocks started off with another early goal via a strike from Gareis off a quick through ball from graduate midfielder Lauren Chang. This put them up 3-0 and it appeared as though after this point, the Gamecocks took their foot off the gas offensively. Auburn capitalized from this approach and soon saw their offense revitalize itself.
Auburn scored twice after the Gamecocks' third goal, bringing the score to 3-2. Both times the Tigers scored, they did so off quick defensive slip-ups from the Gamecocks — once on a corner and once off a pass’s rebound.
The Gamecocks played solid defense all throughout the game despite these slip-ups and held off Auburn late to secure the win.
“Another win, a win at home, obviously; it’s great to beat a ranked team, and so, we’re feeling great, but we know we have a lot more work to do,” Smith said.
This win puts the Gamecocks on a four-game win streak, giving them 9-2 and 4-0 records for the season and conference play, respectively. The Gamecocks play next at Ole Miss on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.