By Claudia Chakamian
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
Exactly one year ago, the South Carolina women’s soccer team was left wanting more when their NCAA Tournament run ended at home in the Elite Eight to UNC. Since, the Gamecocks have worked hard to get back to this spot and go even further.
They did just that as they took down the Florida Gators 2-0 on Nov. 24. This win propels them to their first Women’s College Cup appearance in program history.
“We as a program are so excited to be moving on, achieving something that we’ve never been able to achieve before in our program’s history,” head coach Shelley Smith said after the game. “It’s an amazing feeling; we’re definitely thrilled and excited to represent the University of South Carolina in the Final Four.”
The Gamecocks got on the board in the 13th minute. Gracie Fisk headed in Lindsey Lane’s corner kick to give them the early lead.
The game was slow-moving until the second half with 13 minutes remaining. Lane was crowded by multiple Florida defenders but found an opening from outside the box and snuck one past the keeper, giving the Gamecocks what they needed to advance.
Florida had plenty of chances to score and take the lead, but the South Carolina defense was on top of their game. The Gators led in both shots, 13-7, and those on target, 4-2, but were not able to find the back of the net. Sophomore goalkeeper Mika Krzeczowski had another outstanding game, posting her fourth shutout of the tournament.
Lane made her final game at Stone Stadium one to remember. She contributed to both scores in the game, played all 90 minutes and got both a goal and an assist.
“It feels wonderful; there’s no better feeling,” Lane said. “I’m probably one of the more sentimental ones on the team, so going in knowing that this was the seniors' last game at home was a lot to take in … We all did our job tonight so I’m incredibly proud of this team and that we all just did what we had to do.”
As this final game at Stone Stadium for the year has come and gone, seniors like Lane take a moment to reflect on what they have accomplished over the past four years. This marked their third Elite Eight appearance in the past four years, and they finally pushed that bar to make the Final Four.
“Just taking it one game at a time. We didn’t look on to any of the future games, we just worried about the next game,” Lane said about finally breaking through. “Not thinking about the Elite Eight or the Final Four was a big key for us.”
Senior forward Savannah McCaskill added, “From the first game until now, has been just ‘what’s the task at hand’ and making sure you do your job in that given moment. Those little moments all add up to big moments and getting us results.”
NEXT UP: The Gamecocks travel to Orlando, Florida, for the Women’s College Cup. They will face Stanford in the semifinals on Friday, Dec. 1.