The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Gamecocks earn Elite Eight spot with 2-0 win over Penn State

<p>Graduate defender Remi Swartz and graduate forward Ryan Gareis after scoring against Alabama on Oct. 24. The South Carolina women's soccer team won 2-0 against Penn State to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.&nbsp;</p>

Graduate defender Remi Swartz and graduate forward Ryan Gareis after scoring against Alabama on Oct. 24. The South Carolina women's soccer team won 2-0 against Penn State to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. 

South Carolina women’s soccer extend their NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight with a 2-0 victory over Penn State in Los Angeles, California.

“So proud of this team. They played a great game today and just showed the heart, the determination, that we’ve seen all year,” head coach Shelley Smith said postgame.

A very even first half led to a scoreless halftime stalemate before the Gamecocks came to life early in the second half, scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes after the break.

The Gamecocks’ first goal of the game came from a corner in the 49th minute taken by graduate forward Lauren Chang and was scored on the rebound by redshirt junior Samantha Chang after senior midfielder Jyllissa Harris’ shot came off the crossbar.

Samantha Chang praised her teammates’ overall effort after the Sweet Sixteen win.

“The team did really well to switch formations on the fly, subs did a great job coming in, making an impact, but we stuck together no matter what, and I think that really showed in the way we played,” Chang said.

Shortly after, a pair of graduate forwards connected to double the Gamecocks’ lead, as Ryan Gareis assisted on Luciana Zullo’s game-winning goal in the 56th minute. They are two of South Carolina’s five graduate students who have returned for their final year of eligibility to chase a championship.

“To get back to this point in the Elite Eight, it just means so much to me and my teammates, to my fellow fifth-years who came back, so we’re so excited to be in the position that we are,” Zullo said.

Junior goalkeeper Heather Hinz recorded five saves on the way to keeping her third clean sheet of the tournament in as many games. Smith showed confidence in her team’s mindset as they prepare for their fourth road game of the tournament.

“You’re going to face the best teams in the country. That’s where you’re at; that’s what you’ve earned. So we have got to be on the front foot ready to go play our best soccer,” Smith said. “They don’t want to be done, and they’re going to play that way.”

South Carolina will face No. 4 BYU on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. in Utah with a trip to the College Cup on the line.


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