It was two wins in one day for the South Carolina men’s and women’s soccer teams in NCAA Tournament action yesterday. The men ousted Mercer 1-0 in the first round while the women needed a penalty kick goal in the 74th minute to shake off Colorado 1-0.
The men’s team went into the game against Mercer trying to avenge a 3-2 overtime loss earlier in the season to the Bears. Perhaps the most important player in the first half was goalkeeper William Pyle. The Charlotte (NC) native had two notable diving saves early in the game as Mercer pressed from the start. However, in the 39th minute, the Gamecocks were able to score the go-ahead goal as senior midfielder Kurtis Turner’s free kick from just inside midfield eventually met the outstretched foot of fellow senior Kevin Walker. Walker’s acrobatic touch and finish skipped into the netting to break the stalemate. They would go on to hold the lead until the final whistle to win 1-0. Up next is a road match against ACC Tournament runner-up Clemson on Sunday. The #3 overall seed defeated South Carolina 2-1 to begin the season.
The women’s team owned pretty much the whole game against #20 Colorado, but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities. None of South Carolina’s six shots on goal could find the back of the net. Everything changed when senior Sophie Groff was fouled by the keeper in the box in the 74th minute; she drained the penalty kick to give the gamecocks the lead. Groff has now scored 4 goals in NCAA postseason play. It was their 13th shutout of the season as the Buffaloes registered 9 shots on freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski. South Carolina will square off in a third round matchup with fourth-seeded BYU at home, with a win putting them in the quarterfinals and a step closer to a spot in their first-ever Women’s College Cup semifinal.