The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: No. 8 Gamecocks suffer second SEC loss to No. 20 Arkansas at home

Freshman forward Shae O’Rourke gets ready to send a long pass down the field in South Carolina's match against Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2022
Freshman forward Shae O’Rourke gets ready to send a long pass down the field in South Carolina's match against Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2022

No. 8 South Carolina women’s soccer was defeated 1-0 by No. 20 Arkansas on Sunday at Stone Stadium.

The Gamecocks struggled to beat the press and retain possession, resulting in mistakes that Arkansas was able to take advantage of.

The first half began with Arkansas establishing its high line and press that put the Gamecocks in tough positions from the beginning. This player-marking press style made time on the ball for South Carolina very scarce in its own half.

“We just need to do a better job to play out of that,” head coach Shelley Smith said following the loss. “We just have to be better in our composure.” 

Gamecock freshman forward Shae O’Rourke helped draw the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Arkansas junior midfielder Emilee Hauser. However, the Razorbacks were the more aggressive team in the first half, with seven fouls to the Gamecocks' three.

Arkansas’ relentless pressure paid off, as a turnover in midfield resulted in a chance on the wing for junior forward Ava Tankersley. She slotted home her shot into the bottom left corner with 13 minutes to go in the first half. Tankersley leads Arkansas in points on the season with 14, tallying three goals and eight assists in 10 games so far. 

In the second half, South Carolina created far more chances going forward, mainly due to a tactical change at halftime. This change saw them beat the Arkansas press much easier, and have numbers going forward in a positive way.

“We had to go a bit more direct against them, kind of play more to what they were trying to do and bypass their numbers,” Smith said.

This direct style of play resulted in some nice breaks off the play of junior midfielder Brianna Behm and redshirt senior midfielder Samantha Chang. These chances would fall short though, with the final pass often not falling in the right position to strike.

Many of the struggles the Gamecocks had on offense were due to Arkansas' goalkeeper, graduate Grace Barbara. Barbara had five saves and also claimed many of South Carolina's incoming crosses. This willingness to come out of her box made it hard for chances and moments of opportunity to appear for the home team.

The second half featured more action and chances than the first, but neither team was able to convert its moves into goals. Both goalkeepers made crucial saves with their feet in one-on-one situations and the final 45 minutes was scoreless.

South Carolina (6-2-3) now turns its attention to a home matchup with Florida on Friday, Sept. 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium.