Raleigh, N.C. -The University of South Carolina dropped its first match of the season to No. 16 NC State on Sunday afternoon, 2-1. Redshirt freshman Claire Griffiths scored her first career goal late in the second half.
"I thought we just were not good enough today," head coach Shelley Smith said after the loss. "It wasn't our best performance, and we paid for it. The positive is that if you lose you always evaluate more things and make changes the next time around. I think it's how we respond and I have a good feeling that this team will bounce back and make sure next time we are more prepared when the whistle blows."
With two starters out of the lineup for the Gamecocks on the road against a top-16 ranked team, South Carolina and NC State felt one another out for the first few minutes of the first half. The Wolfpack put up numerous long-range shots, forcing junior Mikayla Krzeczowski to make two first-half saves.
After 45 minutes of action, the two teams would be deadlocked at zero, with NC State holding the shot advantage. NC State would put a ball into the back of the net in the first half, but the Wolfpack were called offside on the play.
Early in the second half, the Gamecocks would concede their first goal of the 2018 season. In the 50th minute Maxine Blackwood found the back of the net. Then, 13 minutes later, the Wolfpack would add to their lead with a breakaway goal by Kia Rankin.
South Carolina would have its chances in the second half to cut into the lead. Most notably, Elexa Bahr narrowly scored her first goal of the 2018 season, but her flick went just inches wide of the right post.
Griffiths headed home the first goal of the game for the Gamecocks in the 81st minute. After a free kick, Dominque Moxie serviced the ball to the middle of the box where a waiting Griffiths headed the ball home to cut the game to 2-1 with nine minutes left in the contest.
In the following minutes, the Gamecocks had opportunities. Zullo put a shot on frame and South Carolina continued pressure but couldn't find the equalizer before the final whistle.
Next on the schedule for the Garnet and Black is William & Mary on the road in Virginia on Aug. 30. The Gamecocks will then return home on Sunday Sept. 2 to take on Purdue at Stone Stadium.