COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Gamecocks are still on cloud nine.
After winning their Elite Eight matchup against SEC rival Florida, South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith and her players are still basking in the glow of their historic victory to reach their first-ever College Cup.
"I think it's sunk in that we're going to the Final Four and I think it'll be even more so when we get down there," said Smith. "That's why we're leaving tomorrow and going to enjoy it and have definitely Friday to get back to our routine and really focus on our task that evening."
While the chance to play for a national title is one that the Gamecocks are excited about, they understand that that chance is only promised if they handle their business on Friday when they take on Stanford.
"We've done a great job all season taking each game at a time and doing your job in that moment has gotten us the results and gotten us to where we are now so definitely don't change that going into Stanford," Gamecocks senior Savannah McCaskill said. "All focus is on Stanford. We get the result then, then we focus on the next game. (We don't) have two games left because, really, we only have one game left guaranteed."
The Cardinal (22-1) has won 20 straight matches and are averaging four goals per contest. The Cardinal have also posted six wins this season where they've scored six goals or more. However, South Carolina (19-2-1) has yet to allow a goal since the NCAA Tournament has started this year. In fact, the Gamecocks have only allowed nine goals all season. If the Gamecocks are going to advance, they'll have to find a way to keep Stanford out of the net.
"If you look at their statistics, they're just goal-scoring machines and we have to be very disciplined," Smith said. "We know we have a team that will make it difficult for them to score so that's, I think, a good matchup and we just have to make sure we do the little things we talk about all the time and don't dive and support each other and we've done that over and over this season. We just have to make sure that we continue to play and do that for 90 minutes against them because they will hurt you if you give them a look."
South Carolina's roster is filled with freshmen and sophomores heading into this matchup against Stanford. With that said, the Gamecocks have no real concern about being overcome by their nerves or emotion in their biggest match of the year.
"We're in a positive mindset. We're confident. We've put ourselves in this position," Smith said. "We leave the field with no regrets and, if you go out there scared to face somebody, then you're just shooting yourself. I think we kind of have the idea that we're not going to lose a game because we have gotten in our own way.
"We're going to make sure we go out there and, if we're going to lose, we've put our best foot forward and, if we do that, then we have a good chance to win a game. That's what we want to do. We want to be proud of our performance when we leave the field – win or lose."
South Carolina will take on Stanford in the national semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m. in Orlando City Stadium. The winner will face either Duke or UCLA on Sunday..