The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks women's soccer falls 4-1 to BYU, ending NCAA Tournament run at Elite Eight

<p>The Gamecocks women's soccer team stands in a line and holds up their “cups” after a game.</p>

The Gamecocks women's soccer team stands in a line and holds up their “cups” after a game.

South Carolina women’s soccer fell to BYU 4-1 in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament, ending its run at the Elite Eight. It was the Gamecocks’ fourth road contest of the tournament after winning the first three away from home without conceding a goal.

“They battled when they were out there and did everything they could to try to compete and come back, and I was proud of the effort,” head coach Shelley Smith said postgame.

BYU took the lead early by way of a goal from senior forward Makaylie Moore in the third minute of the match and continued to pour on the offensive pressure before finding the net again. The second goal saw senior midfielder Mikayla Colohan add her name to the scoresheet as the Cougars doubled the lead in the 15th minute.

The Gamecocks found a goal before halftime to reduce the difference to just one goal, as sophomore forward Corinna Zullo put the ball into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season.

“We’re a big family and we wanted to — we always want to push each other and play for each other, and I think that’s what you saw on this run,” Smith said. “Special team, special group.”

Just two minutes into the second period, BYU scored its third goal of the game as Colohan netted her second on the night. Despite the defensive efforts of South Carolina, Moore equaled her teammate with two goals in the game after an hour of play. BYU outshot South Carolina 26 to five with 15 on frame to the singular on-goal shot for the visitors.

Smith said the atmosphere of South Field, BYU’s soccer stadium, set the tone for the home squad.

“I always love to see venues that can attract that kind of crowd and be excited for these women that just give their all on the field,” Smith said.

Smith also praised her team for its work ethic throughout the season in route to the Gamecocks’ fifth Elite Eight appearance in eight seasons.

“I thought this team — what I can say about them is, they always battled; they always believed,” Smith said. “They came back the next day on the field and worked at whatever it was we needed to get better at.”

Smith said she was grateful for the group of graduate student athletes who returned for a fifth and final campaign after their college careers were disrupted by the pandemic.

“They are the group that reached the Final Four, and they wanted to get back there, and it showed in their heart, their play, their commitment, and they’ll leave that for the younger groups,” Smith said.

South Carolina finished the season 14-7-1 (6-3-1 SEC) in Smith’s 21st season at the helm.