A dream come true for the Gamecocks

South Carolina pulled one of the biggest upsets in the history of women's soccer when the Gamecocks beat defending national champion North Carolina, 1-0, on Saturday, handing UNC its first ever home opener in the 29-year history of the program before a crowd of 3,099 fans at Fetzer Field.

The loss snapped a 27-game winning streak for the Tar Heels, who lost their 2006 opener, falling, 1-0, at Texas A&M in overtime before winning their next 27 games. The loss was only the 10th home loss in UNC history as the Tar Heels fell to 263-10-5 in home games all-time.

South Carolina scored in the 16th minute when Samantha DiazMatosas sent a long arcing cross from the right side to the far post where Erin Sullivan ran on to the ball and headed it past UNC keeper Anna Rodenbough.

It was clear early in the game that UNC would have a hard time scoring against the Gamecocks, who had never beaten a Top 5 team before.

Freshman Rachel Givan got free one-on-one with USC keeper Lindsay Thorstenson in the 7th minute, but her shot pinged off the right post. Six minutes later, sophomore Whitney Engen had her point blank shot was saved by the USC keeper.

Later in the first half, UNC was again denied by the woodwork as Casey Nogueira had another one-on-one look against Thorstenson, but her blistering shot clanged off the right post.

The best opportunity fin the second half came after a scramble in the box. Yael Averbuch had a shot at the open goal from the seven-yard line but her bullet was blocked away by the back of Gamecock defender Blakely Mattern.

UNC finished with a 12-5 edge in shots and a 12-0 advantage in corner kicks.

"To do this," South Carolina midfielder Ashley Kirk told the AP, "is a dream come true."

"We went in knowing we'd have a battle, and that's what it was," South Carolina coach Shelley Smith said. "They have a great crowd at their field, and we were able to hang on. We weathered the storm of a flurry of corner kicks and our kids were able to stay together. These kids have worked hard and it was so nice to have it awarded with a win. We've played in these kinds of games before and they've worked and worked, but we didn't have a balance. Today we had a little luck on our side and played as hard as we can play at this point in the season. Everyone played their role. Whether they came in for five minutes or for 90 minutes, everyone was crucial to the victory."

Sept. 1 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina 0 South Carolina 1. Goal: Sullivan (DiazMatosas) 16.
North Carolina -- Rodenbaugh, Ariel Harris, Maxwell, Eveland, Givan, Averbuch, Long, Heath, Engen, Smith, Nogueira. Subs: Klingenberg, Gilbert, Brooks, Ashlyn Harris, Washington, Moraca.
South Carolina -- Thorstenson, Gillespie, Mattern, Rhoades, Sullivan, Miller, Kirk, Monteiro, Mollon, Worthen, DiazMatosas. Subs: Cobbs, Bigbie, Galloway, Small, Dabbenigno, Hogan.
Att.: 3,099.

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