Sophomore Sophie Groff scored two goals and No. 12 South Carolina (4-0-0) turned in another stellar defensive effort as the Gamecocks defeated Milwaukee (1-3-0) to earn head coach Shelley Smith her 200th career win. The 2-0 result gave South Carolina the Garnet & Black Classic championship on Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium.
Milwaukee tried to impose their will on the Gamecocks early, earning a corner kick opportunity in the first minute of the match. They nearly got on the board after South Carolina was whistled for a foul in the box in the 11th minute. Maria Stephans took the awarded for the Panthers. Despite not being tested in the first matches of the season, Sabrina D'Angelo made a diving save to her right kept the shutout effort alive.
In a run ignited by D'Angelo's penalty save, Groff put the Gamecocks on the board in the 14th minute with an unassisted goal. Groff, who had the winning assist against No. 22 Boston University on Friday night, took a ball on the endline and beat two defenders, slotting the shot between the near post and Milwaukee keeper Paige Lincicum. The ball found the net at the far post for the early 1-0 lead.
Milwaukee looked to equalize just 10 minutes later with Kelly Lewers, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, drawing D'Angelo out of net on a run towards goal. D'Angelo and Andie Romness were there to make the play for South Carolina.
In the 35th minute, Milwaukee set up a set piece just outside of the box. Amy Kauffung took the shot, but the wall of Gamecock defenders held their line and blocked the chance to keep the score 1-0 at the half.
In the second period, the Gamecocks created multiple quality opportunities, with many chances just missing the goal.
Freshman Savannah McCaskill had a great run off a ball from junior Raina Johnson. Just inside of the 18-yard box, Lincicum met the Gamecock and blocked the shot. The Milwaukee keeper could not corral the ball, and Groff took the rebound with the Panther keeper out of position. She sent the shot just high of the cross bar though.
Groff would add a second tally in the 80th minute on a ball sent from freshman Savannah McCaskill. Groff drew Lincicum out of net again, this time putting it past her with a left-footed shot for the 2-0 lead.
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