#25 Commodores eliminated from SEC tournament with 2-0 loss to #7 South Carolina

Vanderbilt soccer shifts attention to NCAA tournament following loss to Gamecocks

Vanderbilt+soccer+plays+the+USC+gamecocks+on+Friday%2C+October+12%2C+2018.+The+final+score+after+double+overtime+was+0-0.+%28Photo+by+Claire+Barnett%29
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#25 Commodores eliminated from SEC tournament with 2-0 loss to #7 South Carolina

Vanderbilt soccer plays the USC gamecocks on Friday, October 12, 2018. The final score after double overtime was 0-0. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Vanderbilt soccer plays the USC gamecocks on Friday, October 12, 2018. The final score after double overtime was 0-0. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Claire Barnett

Vanderbilt soccer plays the USC gamecocks on Friday, October 12, 2018. The final score after double overtime was 0-0. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Claire Barnett

Claire Barnett

Vanderbilt soccer plays the USC gamecocks on Friday, October 12, 2018. The final score after double overtime was 0-0. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Will Fritzler, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt soccer knew their SEC Tournament matchup with South Carolina would be an immense challenge. The Gamecocks were the #7 team in the country and went undefeated in SEC play this season, drawing 0-0 against the Commodores in their previous two matchups.

Unfortunately, there would be no draw in this Tournament clash. Instead, South Carolina’s talent was on full display in last night’s game in Orange Beach, Alabama, as they eliminated the Commodores with a 2-0 win.

Vanderbilt will now shift their attention from the SEC Tournament to the NCAA Tournament, as they await their seeding for the national tournament. On the other hand, the Gamecocks will prepare to face Arkansas in the SEC Tournament finals.

The two teams matched up after both earned one-goal victories in the tournament quarterfinals — Vanderbilt as the second seed with a 2-1 win over Alabama, South Carolina as the third seed beating Georgia 1-0. 

Vanderbilt was perhaps the better team offensively, out-shooting South Carolina 14-9 and taking eight corner kicks to the Gamecocks’ four. Indeed, Vanderbilt outshot South Carolina six to two in the opening 25 minutes, but five of those six shots were blocked and the Gamecocks never appeared at risk of conceding the opening goal.

South Carolina’s first goal came on just its third shot in the 32nd minute by Sutton Jones, when a Claire Griffiths corner from the left side curved dangerously across the face of goal, and Jones was there in the center along the goalline to head the ball in. It was the Gamecocks’ first corner kick goal in SEC play this season, and it looked remarkably similar to Vanderbilt’s first goal by Haley Hopkins against Alabama and the goal they conceded to the Crimson Tide in the final minutes.

Vanderbilt followed the goal with a flurry of offensive activity of its own, including two corners and a blocked shot by Kaylann Boyd, but the Gamecocks kept their offensive poise and doubled their lead just 11 minutes after their first goal. This time, a giveaway in midfield in the 43rd minute gave South Carolina’s Lauren Chang space to launch a through-ball over the top of the Vanderbilt defense to her streaking teammate Luciana Zullo at the right corner of the 18, who caught Commodores goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi flat-footed and slotted the ball into the bottom-left corner.

To their credit, the Commodores prevented South Carolina from taking another shot in the final 30 minutes and launched six of their own in that time, but only one, a 75th minute cross from Maddie Elwell, forced a save from Gamecocks goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski.

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