South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith records 300th career win
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 11 South Carolina women’s soccer (5-1-0, 5-1-0 SEC) dominated Florida (1-3-1, 1-3-1 SEC) 4-2 on Sunday at Stone Stadium to give head coach Shelley Smith her 300th career win, 259 of those coming at South Carolina.
“[Wins] are not something that I’ve ever kept track of, and wasn’t really thinking about coming into today’s match,” Smith said. “Obviously it is an amazing accomplishment, but I don’t go into a game or a season ever thinking about things like that. It is one game at a time and that is our mentality and that is what our team’s mentality is. When I get the chance to step back a little bit, it will be nice to realize the accomplishment. I’m sure it will sink in eventually.”
The win is the fifth straight for the Gamecocks and keeps Carolina on the top of the SEC standings with 15 total points. The win makes Shelley Smith the 27th head coach at the NCAA Division I level to win 300 matches in her career.
“[Winning today] was obviously something we were trying to do for Shelley,” junior defender Sutton Jones said. “We love her, and she loves us. She’s done so well with this program and going into today it was something we really wanted to do for her. It was just super special. She is so humble and even told us after the match that she doesn’t focus on those kinds of things.”
The Gamecocks scoring started with Jones just over five minutes into the contest. The goal came off a corner kick, served from junior Jyllissa Harris. Jones’ goal is her first since her game-winning goal against Vanderbilt in the 2019 SEC Tournament semifinals.
Florida equalized with the Gamecocks just four minutes later when Nicole Vernis scored her first goal of the season for the Gators.
Eleven minutes it was the reigning National Player of the Week, Samantha Chang, who gave the Gamecocks the lead back. Anna Patten collected the corner kick and fired a blocked shot off a Gator defender; Chang then stepped over the ball and connected on a booming shot to the right corner of the net for her second goal of the season.
Just before halftime the Gamecocks found themselves in a situation to put more on the board against Florida. Freshman Rylee Forster scored her second goal of her career after Hallie Meadows sent a header across the frame off a Carolina corner kick. Forster’s goal would end up becoming the game-winning goal after Florida’s late goal.
In the 66th it was Jones again who connected on a corner kick. The brace for the junior is the first of her career and came on a similar play as her goal earlier in the match. A corner taken by Samantha Chang found the near post where Jones headed home the fourth goal for the Gamecocks. Jones joins teammate Lauren Chang as the only active players to score a brace (two goals).
The four goals for the Gamecocks against Florida is the most the Gamecocks have ever scored against their SEC rival. It is only the 10th time since 2000 that the Gators have given up four or more goals.
Carolina will take on Mississippi State on Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. for its annual Senior Day. The Gamecocks have nine seniors on their 2020 roster. The match will be streamed on SEC Network + or on the ESPN app.