Once again weather played a role, but after getting washed out in the scheduled season opener and having lightning in the Charleston area delay the start of Sunday night's contest, the 17th-ranked South Carolina women's soccer team opened its 2021 campaign with a convincing 3-0 road win over College of Charleston.
"Definitely a good start for us to go on the road and get a win and get a shutout," said head coach Shelley Smith. "It was kind of sloppy conditions and we were able to handle that and play our game and get the job done.
"We were also able to play a lot of players and new players that got some valuable minutes in their first regular-season competition. We'll be able to build off that and get some young players especially time to grow as we move through the non-conference part of our schedule," added Coach Smith.
The Gamecocks (1-0-0) broke out on top at the 16:25 mark in the first half when redshirt senior Claire Griffiths connected off a corner kick to give Carolina an early 1-0.
Just six-and-a-half minutes later, another corner kick led to another goal for the Gamecocks, as senior defender Sutton Jones put it in the back of the net off an assist from Lauren Chang to make it 2-0. The Gamecocks outshot the Cougars 7-3 in the first half, putting four shots on goal to CofC's one.
"We made an effort in the preseason to focus on understanding how key set pieces are," Smith said. "In the game of soccer, a lot of times it comes down to a set-piece opportunity. Obviously, that was the difference tonight. We did the job, we executed well and took advantage. It was great to see us keep balls alive and finish."
The Gamecocks' defense controlled much of the second half, keeping the Cougars' scoring opportunities limited. Senior midfielder Jyllissa Harris put an exclamation point on the win with a goal on a penalty kick at the 73:32 mark.
Carolina finished the night with 15 shots including eight on goal.
CofC (0-1-1) had eight shot attempts of which three were on goal. Junior Heather Hinz was credited with all three saves while playing 85 of the 90 minutes in goal for the Gamecocks.
Carolina improved to 7-1-2 in the all-time series with College of Charleston. Sunday's win came on the Gamecocks' first trip to Charleston since the 2002 campaign.
The Gamecocks return to action on Thursday, Aug. 26, when they travel to Greenville, N.C. for a 7 p.m. match with East Carolina.