Gamecocks survive and advance to Round of 16 in PKs vs. Seattle

Gamecocks survive and advance to Round of 16 in PKs vs. Seattle

For the second Friday in a row, No. 18 South Carolina went to penalty kicks in an NCAA Tournament match after 110 minutes of scoreless play. This time, the No. 3 seeded Gamecocks (13-5-5) claimed the shootout, 2-1, over Seattle (15-4-3) to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 for the second time in school history. With senior All-American keeper Sabrina D'Angelo out of the net due to injury, freshman Abbey Crider stepped in to earn her first career shutout and to make two crucial saves in penalty kicks.

Nine minutes into the match, Seattle's leading scorer Stephanie Verdoia posted the day's first shot on goal, but Crider confidently collected her first save of the day.

Midway through the first half, the Gamecocks started to gain some momentum in the attack and nearly opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a pair of shots on frame. Christa Neary and Sophie Groff worked to set Raina Johnson up, but Seattle netminder Brianna Smallidge gobbled up the shot. Seconds later after a takeaway at midfield, Chelsea Drennan took off and drew the Redhawk keeper off her line. Smallidge extended to deflect and keep the match scoreless.

With just 10 minutes remaining before the half, Verdoia dribbled for nearly 30 yards and squared up towards goal, but the shot went just inches wide of the left post. The teams went to the locker room scoreless.

South Carolina saw one of their best chances of the match on a corner kick from the left side in the 65th minute. Drennan served it into the box and connected with Taylor Leach. The shot was just off target though, going wide of the right post.

The Gamecocks earned yet another corner kick with under 10 minutes to go in regulation. Somehow, the Redhawks deflected a header flying straight for the net. On the rebound shot, Kiana Kraft collected a team save on the goal line.

Five minutes later, South Carolina was threatening again. Groff had a shot blocked, but Johnson corralled the rebound inside of the penalty area. She had a look at an open goal, but chipped it high of the bar.

On a corner kick with less than a minute left, the referee stopped the clock to issue yellow cards to both Leach and Seattle's Isabelle Butterfeld. The caution was Leach's second of the day, leaving the Gamecocks to finish the match down a player.

Seconds into the second overtime period, Seattle nearly ended everything. Verdoia made another long run and unleashed a shot from range, but Crider dove to her right to make the save, and nine minutes later, the teams went to penalty kicks.

The Gamecocks stayed with the same penalty kick order as last week's shootout against Clemson, but the story was not the same. Down 0-1 after the first two rounds, Crider made a diving save to her right and Lindsey Lane converted to level the contest. Kraft clanked her opportunity off the left post and Smallidge saved Bay Daniel's shot to keep the score 1-all after four rounds.

Crider made a spectacular save to her right on Stephanie Spiekerman's chance and put the game on Drennan's foot. The Gamecocks clinched last week's PKs before Drennan had the opportunity to shoot. This week she calmly stepped up to the spot and powered a kick low and left to advance South Carolina to the Round of 16.

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