COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In a battle of unbeatens, South Carolina (6-0-1) defeated South Florida (4-1-2), 1-0, in a defensive clash tonight at Stone Stadium. Freshman Daija Griffin notched the game's lone goal in the 63rd minute.
“At times we were able to control the play, pass out of their pressure and turn their backline a bit and I thought we did a great job to get some good looks and were just unlucky to not finish a couple chances early on in the first half,” Head Coach Shelley Smith said of the game. “Credit to the players who put that ball into the box to give us the lead and give us what we needed. Obviously, it was a defensive effort all around by both teams. We had to really work hard and defend. They were very tough and good on the ball and put us under pressure.”
With only three goals allowed between the two sides all season, both defenses came to play, stifling offenses and leaving them to resort primarily to long-range attempts. Bulls senior forward Sharla Passariello had the first such attempt in the ninth minute as she sent in a left-to-right shot from 20 yards out that forced Gamecock junior goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo to lay out for the save.
Striker Danielle Au had a chance in the 24th minute after a D'Angelo clearance was flicked on past the Bulls backline, but the senior was unable to get a clean shot off on the break. Two minutes later, USF was back on the attack, as Passariello hit a long dipping shot that forced D'Angelo to leap up and fully extend to tip it up off the crossbar. Junior forward Demi Stokes headed the rebound back toward the Gamecock net, but D'Angelo was there again to make stop.
Shortly after South Florida freshman midfielder Jordyn Listro got space 25 yards out and ripped a liner that sailed just over the crossbar, the Gamecocks capitalized on a USF mistake in the back. A misplayed ball in the Bulls penalty box after a dangerous cross in by the Gamecocks, coupled with aggressive pursuit from Griffin allowed the freshman to notch the first game-winner of her young career in the 63rd minute. Griffin knocked a loose ball away from a USF defender and calmly slipped it past USF keeper Christiane Endler inside the right post from just outside the six-yard box.
Despite a few long-range attempts late from Bulls, Carolina's stout defense dug in during the final minutes and didn't allow USF any easy looks after notching the game's only goal. Outshot by six attempts (12-6) on the night, the Gamecocks led by D'Angelo, who recorded a season-high six saves, produced their nation-leading sixth shutout of the year.
South Carolina will wrap-up non-conference play on Sunday as they host East Carolina at 1 p.m.
Season tickets for women's soccer, which includes admission to all home games, are currently on sale in the Gamecock Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online at GamecocksOnline.com, or by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS. Cost for season tickets for women's soccer is $25 for adults and $10 for youth (17 and under).