Nov. 7, 2009

Courtesy of Florida

A first-half penalty kick gave the No. 15 South Carolina soccer team (17-3-1, 7-3-1 SEC) a 1-0 win over No. 8 Florida (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) in the Southeastern Conference Tournament’s semifinal round at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.

The Gamecocks will look to continue their attempt to avenge their three regular-season losses in Sunday’s final versus No. 13 LSU. So far in this tournament, USC has defeated two opponents that claimed wins versus the Gamecocks, posting a 3-2 win over Georgia in Wednesday’s opening round. Florida defeated USC 3-0 a week ago in Gainesville in the regular-season finale for both teams. This will be the first SEC Tournament final appearance for both LSU and USC.

The Gators fell behind in the first half after Lindsay Small was fouled in the box, giving the Gamecocks their first penalty kick of the year.  Kim Miller scored, marking the first successful penalty kick against the Gators in 2009. Mississippi State was awarded a PK when the two teams met in October in Starkville, Miss., but that attempt was high.

A sluggish first half hurt the Gators Friday but the team put plenty of pressure on USC in the second half.

“I think it is hard to play a team that you just played a week before. Obviously, they were really up for it because we beat them in Gainesville. We had a slow start in the first half, but I loved the way we played in the second half. We had our chances, some great looks,” Burleigh said.

One of those great opportunities came early in the second half when sophomore Lindsay Thompson’s 17-yard shot hit the crossbar in the 48th minute. The ball kicked back into play, but Brooke Thigpen couldn’t put the deflection in through traffic at the far post corner. In the 78th minute, these two players had another close opportunity. Thigpen served the ball into the box from deep in the USC final third. USC goalkeeper Mollie Patton didn’t secure the ball when she came out to try to end the play, but Thompson couldn’t get a foot on it before she and Patton collided in the six-yard box.

Florida pushed until the end, with sophomore Tahnai Annis trying to finish the cross from Nicky Kit in the final minute, but Patton made the save.

Florida will return to Gainesville to await the announcement of the 2009 NCAA Soccer Championship field. The 64-team field will be revealed Monday, Nov. 9 at approximately 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN News (Gainesville/Ocala Cox Cable channel 252).