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Gamecocks' postseason run comes to an end

51 days ago
South Carolina Athletics
Photo: south carolina athletics

PROVO, Utah - South Carolina women's soccer's postseason run came to an end in the Elite Eight Saturday night (Nov. 27), as the Gamecocks fell to 13th ranked BYU 4-1. The squad ends their season 14-7-1 after advancing to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.

The Gamecocks had won three matches on the road in the NCAA Tournament, all of which came over teams receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches Poll, including second-seeded North Carolina. They were the only team in either the Elite Eight to win three games on the road or at neutral sites.

"We had a great run to get here, playing as the underdog," head coach Shelley Smith said. "There were some things we had to overcome, adversities with injuries, but we stayed together. I'm so proud of this team to make it to this point and battle every time they're out there. We gave it our all." 

The Gamecock offense went on the attack quickly, opening the match with a pair of shots and three corner kicks less than two minutes in. The Cougars responded by scoring on their first offensive possession of the match, netting a goal off a breakaway in the 3rd minute. BYU added a second goal in the 15th minute on a cross into the box. 

Just before halftime, the Gamecocks got on the scoreboard when Corinna Zullo scored her fifth goal of the season. Camryn Dixson played a short pass to Claire Griffiths on the far-right side. Griffiths played the ball into the back post where it found Zullo for a wide-open shot at the goal. It was the third assist of the season for both Griffiths and Dixon. 

The Gamecocks looked to have the momentum on their side going into the second half, but BYU was able to score 1:06 into the new half. The South Carolina offense was unable to keep its momentum in the second half, as they were out-shot 15-1. The Cougars added to their lead in the 61st minute to make the final score.

Heather Hinz finished with a career-high 11 saves on the night, the most since Mikayla Krzeczowski had 10 against Penn State on Nov. 16, 2018. BYU held a 26-5 shot advantage on the night.

It marked the final game for a Gamecock senior class that has made the Elite Eight in three of their five seasons, including the program's first College Cup appearance in 2017.

"They made history, they put us in a different position than we've ever been," Smith said of her seniors. "They are the group that made the Final Four, and they wanted to get back there. It showed in their heart, the play, and the commitment. They'll leave that for the younger groups. Those players that have watched them and learned from them, they'll grow, and hopefully, they'll remember how much this senior group meant to them."

Those seniors include fifth-year players Lauren Chang, Sarah Eskew, Ryan Gareis, Remi Swartz, and Luciana Zullo, and seniors Claire Griffiths and Sutton Jones.

This season marked the ninth consecutive 12-win season for the Gamecocks and the ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. It was the 17th winning campaign in 21 years under Shelley Smith.

For the latest on women's soccer, visit GamecocksOnline.com or follow the team's social media accounts on Twitter @GamecockWSoccer, Facebook /GamecockWSoccer, and Instagram @GamecockWSoccer.