The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Strong defensive play leads South Carolina women's soccer team to tie against Georgia

<p>The women's soccer team in a huddle during a time-out during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs.&nbsp;</p>

The women's soccer team in a huddle during a time-out during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs. 

The South Carolina women's soccer team tied the Georgia Bulldogs 0-0 after 110 minutes of action on Friday night. Each team’s strong defensive showings blocked any goals, despite a multitude of shots. 

First half

The Gamecocks were unable to find the back of the net in their match against the Bulldogs due to Georgia's defensive presence. The Gamecocks found themselves taking several tough shots into a packed Georgia defensive third all throughout the first half.

The Gamecocks were only able to register two shots against the Bulldogs in the first 25 minutes. Shots by sophomore forward Catherine Barry and redshirt senior midfielder Claire Griffiths were both off, largely because of the Bulldogs defensive positioning. 

The Bulldogs registered five shots in the same amount of time, but the Gamecocks were similarly holding their own inside their defensive third, forcing four misses and blocking one strike. This sturdy defensive play continued throughout the half.

The Gamecocks were unable to capitalize on set pieces or crosses throughout the first half, but made up for that with their defensive performance. Whenever the Bulldogs made their way into the Gamecocks defensive third, the plays typically ended in intercepted passes or successful tackles.

“We stayed together very well. We competed,” head coach Shelley Smith said postgame. “We were on the front foot a lot of times. We had few missed clears, but overall, I thought we did a good job getting the ball out of danger.”

Second half

The Gamecocks came in firing on all cylinders in the second half with a shot from graduate student forward Luciana Zullo just 16 seconds into the half, leading to a corner kick. Barry followed suit and shot on target off the corner kick to register the Gamecocks’ second shot in one minute.

The Gamecocks continued this high tempo, registering a total of 12 shots in the second half, which far eclipsed their three shots total from the first half. Most of the attacks came from quick strikes off runs but despite this tempo change, the Bulldogs defense held them from finding the back of the net.

The final moments in the second half kept both teams on edge. Graduate student forward Ryan Gareis managed to fire off three shots in quick succession in the last 10 minutes of regulation, but the Bulldogs’ defense clutched up and saved all three rapid strikes.

“We changed a little bit how we were coming out and how we were playing,” Smith said postgame. “The second half we just did a much better job getting behind and give ourselves chances in the box.”

South Carolina's defense held the Bulldogs to several forced shots, intercepted passes, and ultimately no scores in the second half. The defense did well in complimenting the offense this half as on a number of plays for the Gamecock’s offense spurred from defensive counterattack.

Overtime

It was evident throughout overtime just how much the defensive effort had gotten to both teams. The Gamecocks registered just one shot, while the Bulldogs registered two. 

Outside of two Gamecock corner kicks in the final five minutes of the second overtime, both offenses appeared thoroughly fatigued and did not consistently pressure their final thirds. 

Next Match

The Gamecock’s 0-0 tie with Georgia is the team's first tie of the season and puts them at 9-4-1 overall and 4-2-1   in conference play. Their next match will be on Oct. 21 at LSU, where they look to snap their three-game winless streak.


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