The No. 10 South Carolina women’s soccer team finished its non-conference slate of matches on Sunday, capturing a 2-0 win over Furman on senior night.
The win marked another career milestone for head coach Shelley Smith, who earned her 300th victory with the Gamecocks. On the pitch, senior forward Catherine Barry led the team in scoring with both goals.
“It’s special always when you celebrate the seniors and all the families are here,” Smith said. “Extra special to get that win and have your seniors score and combine to do that.”
The Gamecocks started with all seven of its recognized seniors on the field for kickoff, and the veteran offense took shots early, led by Barry's two within the first five minutes of the match.
South Carolina controlled possession for the entirety of the first period. Although productive, the team was unable to convert their shots on goal. The Paladin defense put up a relentless fight in preventing the Gamecocks from scoring on any of 18 shots in the opening 45 minutes.
South Carolina came out of halftime looking for the first goal of the match and found it within the first two minutes of the second period. Barry, who was unsuccessful on her six shot attempts in the first half, found the back of the net off an assist from fellow senior forward Corinna Zullo.
Barry then doubled back and added security to the Gamecocks' lead, showcasing her footwork to tally another goal for South Carolina.
“Just being able to be that spark in the second half on my senior night, obviously, was super special,” Barry said. “It wouldn’t happen without the work of all my teammates, but (it was) a good result, and we're happy to go into conference play like that.”
With a more comfortable lead, the Gamecocks' offense continued to generate scoring opportunities with two corner kicks and 14 more shots in the second period but was once again shut down by Furman’s last line of defense.
"We were in and around the goal and had lots of chances, and they did a good job to stifle many of the opportunities," Smith said. "Eventually one and two went in, but they did a great job to hold us."
Furman's offense failed to match the productivity of its defense, putting up just 4 shots, including only one on goal, for the entire match. South Carolina's defense, although not challenged with much action, shut down any opportunities for the Paladins to score.
After finishing it's none conference slate 6-1-1, the Gamecocks will now move into conference play. Barry said despite no trophy being on the line, the last eight games make a long-term difference for the team.
“We've played a lot of good teams and a lot of different teams, and we've been able to try some things out, find some stuff out about ourselves, which is always the goal of non-conference,” Barry said. “You're not going to win a championship in the non-conference season, but the games matter.”
South Carolina (6-1-1 overall) will open SEC play against Vanderbilt (5-0-3) on Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in Columbia. The match will be streamed on SEC Network+.