No. 9 South Carolina women's soccer (6-1-0, 6-1-0 SEC) took down Mississippi State (2-2-3, 2-2-3 SEC) 2-0 on Friday at Stone Stadium on Senior Night. The win keeps the Gamecocks on top of the SEC standings with one match to go in the regular season.
Carolina's goals came from a pair of freshmen with Corinna Zullo notching the game-winning goal in the second half. Fellow freshman Ranya Senhaji struck the back of the net for the first time for Carolina's insurance goal in the 81st minute.
"Obviously very happy for our seniors, being at home for the last time this fall and getting the win," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "I think it was a tremendous team effort. We told the team how a lot of people played their roles tonight and that's what helped to get through the 90 minutes tonight."
After a scoreless first half it was a hand ball in the box from Mississippi State that set up the first big moment of the match. The Bulldogs were able to get out of it with the match still scoreless after Anna Patten's attempt went high over the crossbar.
Just five minutes later the Gamecocks pounced. Zullo found the back of the net after a corner kick from Jyllissa Harris was settled into the box. The goal for Zullo is the second of her career and her first game-winning goal of her career.
Two minutes later the Bulldogs found themselves in a position to tie the match with a penalty kick of their own. Niah Johnson stepped over the ball and was denied by Heather Hinz who lunged to her right to make the save. Hinz had more work to do as Madison Cotta fired a rebound shot that Hinz collected for another save. Hinz would go on to finish with four saves to post her second career clean sheet.
"I thought [Heather Hinz] did a great job to anticipate and get there," Smith said. "And then to make that second save where she needed to be alert because Mississippi State did a good job to follow up that miss. It's just good goalkeeping and we are proud of her and happy she was able to do that for us."
Insurance came in the 81st when Senhaji made use of a perfectly executed play from seniors Lauren Chang and Ryan Gareis. Chang played a through ball to Gareis who sent a left-footed cross into the box that Senhaji redirected in for her first career goal and gave Carolina breathing room late in the match.
"We talked about attacking them in the wide channel and that's exactly what we did," Chang said. "Ryan [Gareis] made a great run and I just had to play a simple ball and she looked up early which was the key to that goal. She was able to see a runner across the middle and make that great pass."
The Gamecocks push their winning streak to six, the longest winning streak in the SEC, with the win over the Bulldogs. The win is also the fourth win over 2019 NCAA Tournament opponents and marks a perfect 5-0-0 record in the month of October.
Carolina controls its own destiny heading into the final match of the season on Nov. 6 when the Gamecocks head to Knoxville to take on Tennessee. The match is set for 6 p.m. ET on SEC Network +.