Gamecocks Open NCAA Tournament Play Friday Against Alabama State

BY: TYRIA GOINES

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 1 seeded South Carolina women’s soccer (15-2-1) plays host to Alabama State (11-7-2) in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Fri., Nov. 10. Kickoff from Stone Stadium is set for 6 p.m. ET.

“We are excited to be playing again tomorrow night and having this opportunity to compete for a national championship. We have had a good week of training, and I am pleased with the focus of our group. The players are determined and excited about playing again after having some rest since their last match in the SEC Tournament. Have the chance to play at home again at Stone Stadium is special, and we’re happy our fans can enjoy the start of the NCAA postseason with us,” said South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith.

South Carolina saw its 14-match unbeaten streak snapped after falling to eighth-seeded Arkansas 1-0 in the SEC Quarterfinals in Orange Beach, Ala., on Oct. 31.

The Razorbacks went ahead 1-0 in the 53rd minute on just their second shot on goal of the game. Defender Tori Cannata was credited with the goal after deflecting a shot from teammate Taylor Malham. The deflection snuck the ball into the right side of the net and gave Arkansas a one-goal advantage. Top-seeded Carolina suffered the setback despite producing the majority of the scoring chances throughout the contest. The Gamecocks finished the match with a 20-3 shot advantage and attempted 10 of the game’s 13 corner kicks.

Carolina’s win over Florida in the regular-season finale (Oct. 26) secured the fourth SEC Championship in program history. South Carolina earned the program’s second-straight NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed during Monday’s selection show. This season marks the fourth time the Gamecocks will head into the NCAA Tournament with a national seed.

The Alabama State Lady Hornets secured their second-straight NCAA Tournament berth this past Sunday after moving past Grambling State in penalty kicks to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship. Alabama State posted a 2-1 victory over Alcorn State in the first round of the SWAC Championship before advancing through penalty kicks against Texas Southern in the semifinals. Friday will mark the first game against ranked opponent this season for the Lady Hornets, who sport a mark of 4-5-0 in away matches in 2017.

Senior forward Lexi Krieger leads Alabama State with 27 points on nine goals and nine assists, while fellow attacker Ariela Lewis boasts a team-best 12 tallies. Midfielder Inma Martinez, who ranks sixth in NCAA Division I with six game-winners, is third on the team with 20 points. Junior goalkeeper Gianna Guyot has totaled the fourth-most saves (126) nationally and enters Friday’s contest with a goals against average of 1.80.

This season marks Carolina’s 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the 10th time in the last 11 years it has reached the event. Carolina sports a mark of 9-9-3 in NCAA Tournament games, including a 6-4 record in the first round. The Gamecocks are 7-3-1 in the NCAA Tournament when facing a team at Stone Stadium, and 10 of their 11 NCAA Tournament appearances have come under coach Shelley Smith. Carolina is 11-2-0 against teams that qualified for the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Carolina opened the 2016 NCAA Tournament against Alabama State, notching a 7-0 victory in the first meeting between the two. Forward Savannah McCaskill logged three assists and a goal in the win for the Gamecocks, whose six first-half tallies marked the second-most in a 45-minute span in program history.

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