COLUMBIA, S.C. - For the third time in four seasons No. 5 South Carolina women's soccer (19-1-3, 7-0-3 SEC) is headed to the NCAA quarterfinals with its 2-0 win over Kansas (17-5-3, 4-2-3 Big 12) on Sunday afternoon.
Propelled by goals from Grace Fisk and Riley Tanner, the Gamecocks will host the winner of West Virginia and Washington State in the NCAA quarterfinals. A date and time have not been officially announced.
"Excited to be here on the winning side of things," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "It was a great game and that's what you expect this time of year on this stage in the tournament. Kansas showed how strong they are and that they deserved to be in the top 20 all year. They gave us a great game. I'm just really proud of our team to come out on top today. Knowing that we've earned another chance to be home is an amazing feeling. This crew has been amazing, and they want to keep playing here at Stone Stadium. We're thankful that [Grace Fisk] and the other seniors have another time here to play. We know it's going to be our last game at this point so it's going to be a little easier to take, and the next step would be the final four. We're excited to be hosting [next week] and moving on."
Fisk's goal came in the 62nd minute after Luciana Zullo drew a Kansas foul outside the box. Junior Lauren Chang and sophomore Jyllissa Harris both stood over the ball before Chang sent a looping ball into the box that found a streaking Fisk who sent the ball from the far post to the right side of the goal and off that post and in. The goal for Fisk is the first for her this season and the sixth of her career.
"I don't score often so my main job is keeping goals out," Fisk said after the match. "It's nice to get a goal and help the team on the other end as well."
"I saw the position of the ball and thought 'I have a good feeling about this'," Chang said. "To give us an opportunity to at least, not only get a shot off, but maybe get it across the frame again."
Just 13 minutes later it was Tanner again who went to work for the Gamecocks, this time all by herself. She shed two different Jayhawk defenders before barreling into the box and slotting the ball down the line and off the right post and in. The goal for Tanner is her third in as many matches, making her just the second Gamecock since 2013 (Savannah McCaskill) to accomplish that.
"She's been really, really good recently and coming off the bench and giving us that spark," Fisk said of Tanner. "She can come in and really show out and I think that's shown, especially the last couple of games."
On the defensive end the Gamecocks extended their shutout streak to 652 minutes a streak that has included seven consecutive clean sheets. The streak is the longest by the Gamecocks since 2009 when the team had a streak span 715 minutes. The shutout also marks 50 for Mikayla Krzeczowski in her career, an achievement that her and only two other players in NCAA women's soccer history have done.
The win keeps the Gamecocks' 2019 record at Stone Stadium unblemished with a 9-0-2 record. The win gives Carolina its 13th win over a ranked opponent at home in the past four seasons and moves the Gamecocks to 23-19-6 all-time against ranked opponents at Stone Stadium.
"We've said it all year, it's probably one of the best places to play in the country for college soccer," Smith said. "It's a special place. Our fans have been tremendous all year. The support helps us through games, it really does. It's a neat venue and we're thankful to be home. We've had a lot of good memories on that field and I'm just thankful that we have one more chance coming up this week."
"[The fans] have been a key part of our success here at Stone Stadium and I think they know that," Chang said. "I have friends on Samford who were like 'This many people come to your games all the time?' I was like 'Yes, this is normal.' And they were like 'Do the drums play the whole time?' I was like 'Yes!' They know that they're a key, integral part to our success here so, please come next week!"