"The game was a crazy game and I was telling our kids today that every big game has a lot of critical moments in it when you have to defend, you have to save balls, you have to be a little bit lucky and you have to finish your chances and try and win the game," head coach Tony da Luz said.. "I though it had a little bit of everything, a lot drama. It was a fantastic NCAA playoff game and we're really proud to be on the winning end."
With the win, Wake Forest improves to 16-5-2 on the season, while South Carolina ends its season with a 19-4-2 record.
The Demon Deacons applied constant pressure over the final 60 seconds and Allie Sadow earned a corner kick with 10 seconds remaining. Jill Hutchinson hustled over to the far corner and got her kick off with four seconds remaining. The ball found the head of Harrington on the right side of the six-yard box with two seconds left and she headed the ball over South Carolina goalkeeper Mollie Patton and into the back of the net to give Wake Forest an improbable 1-0 victory.
"I saw Jill Hutchinson sprinting to get the ball and take the corner," Harrington said. "I could hear the clock winding down. I was just there and nobody was marking me and she put the ball in a perfect place. As soon as I saw the ball coming to me I said to myself 'It's going in, it's going in' and it went in.
The Demon Deacons continue one of the best seasons in program history, advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Wake Forest also equals the school record for number of wins in a season with its 16th victory.
Wake Forest advances to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament next weekend to face either Maryland or North Carolina. The Terrapins and Tar Heels will meet on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Chapel Hill. A site, date and time of the quarterfinal match will be announced after the Maryland-UNC contest.
The goal for Harrington was her second of the season and the fourth of her career. Both of her goals in the 2009 season have been game-winners.
Hutchinson recorded her fourth assist of the season, increasing her point total to a team-leading 32 points, which ties the school record for points in a single season. The forward from Wayne, Pa., also has 85 career points, which equals the school record.
Junior goalkeeper Amanda Barasha earned her seventh shutout of the season, making three saves to earn the clean sheet.
Patton suffered the loss in goal for South Carolina, allowing one goal and making one save.
Brooke Jacobs led the Gamecocks offensively with four shots, including three on frame. Kayla Grimsley and Lindsay Small each had two shots.
Wake Forest held a 15-9 advantage in shots, while South Carolina had a slight 3-2 edge in shots on goal. The Deacs attempted eight corner kicks, while USC had three corners.
Wake Forest had the first shot attempt of the game in the second minute as Casey Luckhurst had an attempt from 23 yards out that sailed well high of the goal.
Kaley Fountain had the best look early in the game after USC was whistled for a foul just outside the penalty area. Fountain's free kick from 20 yards out sailed high and left of the goal to keep the game scoreless.
South Carolina had its first good look of the match in the 36th minute when Jacobs fired a shot from 25 yards out, but Barasha was able to make the save.
Wake Forest nearly broke the deadlock in the 37th minute. Hutchinson's shot from 18 yards out on the left side of the 18-yard box banged off the cross bar and was sent away.
The Demon Deacons had another great chance with four minutes remaining in the half. Bianca D'Agostino played a nice pass ahead to Hutchinson, who was able to dribble around Patton, who had come off her goal line. However, before Hutchinson was able to get a shot off, a South Carolina defender was able to make a nice slide tackle and send the ball out for a corner kick.
The Gamecocks had the better of the play early in the second half, getting three shots off in the first 10 minutes of the half. The closest attempt came in the 51st minute when Small had a header attempt go wide of the net.
South Carolina had its best chance of the match with 30 minutes left to play. Jacobs had a pair of shots from close range, the first was saved by Barasha, while the second hit off the right post and was cleared away by the Deacon defense.
The Deacs had another opportunity with 23 minutes remaining. Sarah Winslow played a cross from the right side. Hutchinson attempted to one-time a shot from eight yards out, but her attempt was high of the goal.
Wake had another near miss with 19:30 left in the game. A throw-in was headed out to D'Agostino in the center of the pitch. D'Agostino sent a right-footed shot just wide of the left post from 25 yards away.