LOS ANGELES - It's on to the Elite Eight for the South Carolina women's soccer team.
South Carolina took down Penn State 2-0 Sunday afternoon (Nov. 21), as the Gamecocks advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the fifth time in program history. They will travel to BYU for a match on either Nov. 26 or 27 at a time to be determined.
"Amazing," head coach Shelley Smith said of the victory. "I'm so proud of this team. They played a great game today and just showed the heart and determination that we've seen all year, especially in the postseason. They deserved that win today."
"I'm just so happy for our team to go to the Elite Eight," senior forward Luciana Zullo said. "I feel like we have been through so much this year as a team. To see our success come to life is just so exciting. We've played together this whole tournament, we've been the underdog, and we've proven ourselves time after time on the road."
Penn State pushed the attack early, putting a shot on goal in the second minute that goalkeeper Heather Hinz was able to make a leaping save on.
From there, the Gamecock defense held the Nittany Lions to just one shot on goal the rest of the first half. South Carolina's lone shot on goal in the first half came in the 36th minute off the foot of Ranya Senhaji.
The Gamecocks wasted no time starting the second half.
Off a corner kick in the 49th minute, Lauren Chang slipped as she put the ball in play, but was able to find Jyllissa Harris in the box. Harris' header hit the crossbar and then the chest of Samantha Chang who flicked the ball home past the Penn State keeper. The goal was Chang's third of the season and second in as many games.
"JY (Jyllissa Harris) had a good challenge and hit the crossbar on the header," Sam Chang said of the goal. "It just dropped to me and I tapped it in. Just right place, right time. It was awesome to celebrate with the team."
Less than seven minutes later, Zullo cemented the victory as she scored on a goal reminiscent of her game-winner against North Carolina in the first round. Ryan Gareis went wide left and found Zullo open at the top of the 18-yard box. Zullo took a touch and slotted the ball just inside the right post for her third goal of the season.
The Gamecock defense held strong for the final 35 minutes, coming up with key defensive stops, including a spectacular leaping save by Hinz in the 74th minute.
For the match, Penn State out-shot the Gamecocks 14-11, but both teams tallied five shots on goal.Check back later for more details.