COLUMBIA, S.C. -- With goals from junior Raina Johnson and sophomore Paige Bendell, No. 14 South Carolina (2-0-0) defeated Samford (0-2-0) 2-0 in the Gamecocks' home opener on Sunday evening at Stone Stadium. With the victory, the Gamecocks push their home winning streak to 12, the longest in school history.
South Carolina came out firing, posting three shots in the first eight minutes of the match. The aggressive play nearly yielded a goal with quick shots from Johnson and freshman Lindsey Lane just wide and high. Lane sent the third shot in the early going towards net, but the Bulldog keeper Anna Maddox was able to get a hand on the shot to deflect.
Senior Taylor Leach came within inches of adding her third goal of the season in the 23rd minute. Set up on a free kick from senior Andie Romness, the pair nearly connected for the second time of the young 2014 campaign, but the header bounced off the crossbar.
After the break, the Gamecocks came out firing once again and finally found the net in the 57th minute. Romness hit Johnson in front of the goal on a free kick. Johnson controlled the serve and punched it past Maddox.
Eight minutes later, a flurry of activity nearly netted a second South Carolina goal. A deep free kick from sophomore Chelsea Drennan led to a jumble of play at the goal line. The sequence resulted in a pair of Gamecock shots and a corner kick. South Carolina had two more shots at the goal face after the corner, but Samford held to stay within a tally.
In the 76th minute, the Gamecocks added the insurance goal. Junior Stevi Parker played a corner kick into the box which freshman Lauren Jankowski one-touched over to Bendell who finished the play for a 2-0 lead.
Samford's most dangerous play of the night came off a corner kick from Kinsey Sessions in the 84th minute. Senior goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo jumped up to corral the ball and keep the Bulldogs off the board.
D'Angelo recorded just one save in the match due to the stellar play of the South Carolina defense that allowed one shot tonight and only three total in its first two matches of the 2014 campaign. In a group defensive effort, the Gamecocks collected a pair of shutouts in their opening weekend.
After recording nine shots in the match without a score, Raina Johnson put the Gamecocks on the board with her first goal of the season. The goal in the 57th minute was assisted by Andie Romness and gave South Carolina a 1-0 lead.
The Gamecocks put 13 of their 19 shots on frame and allowed just one Bulldog shot in the entire match.
• With the victory, the Gamecocks have now won 12 in a row at home, the longest streak in program history.
• The South Carolina win broke Samford's four-game regular-season win streak over SEC opponents. The Bulldogs also defeated Ole Miss 3-2 in exhibition play earlier this month.
• Raina Johnson, South Carolina's leading scorer in 2013, recorded her first points of the season on her goal in the 57th minute.
• Andie Romness recorded her second assist, both game-winners, of the 2014 season in the match.
• Paige Bendell's goal in the 76th minute was the second of her career.
• Freshman Lauren Jankowski notched the first point of her collegiate career on the assist. The point is the first scored by a freshman for the Gamecocks this season.
• The shutout victory is Sabrina D'Angelo's 21st career shutout, second in school history (Mollie Patton, 31).
• The Gamecocks have allowed just three total shots in their first two matches of the season.
South Carolina Head Coach Shelley Smith I'm happy to come out with two wins, two shutouts. We're scoring goals which we had trouble doing in the preseason. It's obviously a great start to the season and I'm happy with where we are and what we can build on.
Taylor Leach, Senior Defender Organization and communication is huge (when playing defense). If you're not talking, you're not doing something right, so we're constantly on each other. As long as we're talking and moving properly, nothing really gets by us and if it does we have somebody covering.
The Gamecocks continue a five-game home stand with the Garnet and Black Classic on Fri., Aug. 29, and Sun., Aug. 30. Friday's matches pit Milwaukee and College of Charleston at 4 p.m. followed by the Gamecocks and Boston University shortly after. On Sunday, Boston University and College of Charleston are set for a 12 p.m. kick before the Gamecocks conclude the two-day event at 2:30 p.m. against Milwaukee.