The South Carolina women’s soccer team overcame another obstacle in its quest for a national title on Friday afternoon, defeating Hofstra 3-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. With the victory, the Gamecocks have reached the Round of 16 for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
“We’re moving on, we’re thrilled,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “I’m so happy for this team.”
South Carolina’s offensive versatility proved to be the difference in the match, as they were able to create goal-scoring opportunities from free kicks and counterattacks. Redshirt junior midfielder Samantha Chang also had an individual performance to remember, scoring one goal and providing two assists.
Throughout the match, South Carolina’s defense produced when they needed it most, especially when Hofstra became increasingly dangerous after the halftime break. The back line remained firm despite intense pressure, making sure that none of the Pride’s six shots on goal found the back of the net.
South Carolina started the match on the front foot, attacking deep into their opponent’s half of the field and hitting crosses into their penalty area.
It was only a matter of time before the Gamecocks found its breakthrough in the 22nd minute. A free kick delivered into the box by graduate student midfielder Lauren Chang was headed by sophomore forward Catherine Berry into the path of Samantha Chang, who finished the play from close range.
“I think the goal was really important for us to get ahead early so that we could have that one in our back pocket,” Samantha said.
However, momentum shifted Hofstra’s way during the second half, and they produced many opportunities of its own. The Pride dominated possession for much of the half and had two shots hit the crossbar — one from senior forward Miri Taylor in the 70th minute, and another from sophomore defender Louise Hayden in the 78th.
In between those two close chances, South Carolina doubled its lead on another goal originating from set play. The 77th minute exchange began with a free kick from junior defender Camryn Dixon and finished with a piece of brilliance from Barry, who dribbled past multiple defenders and scored from a tight angle.
Graduate student forward Ryan Gareis solidified the victory ten minutes later, running half the length of the field and beating the Hofstra goalkeeper for South Carolina’s third goal of the match.
“To keep the shutout, I’m really proud of our team,” Smith said. “(They) put in the goals they needed to win the game and finish it off.”
South Carolina's next match will be at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21, where the team will face Penn State at McAlister Stadium in Los Angeles, California.