Women’s soccer pushing for top-4 SEC finish in game at South Carolina



By Kevin Erpenbeck | Women’s soccer beat writer

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UK women’s soccer will conclude the 2013 regular season with a push toward one last win as they travel to face the University of South Carolina on Thursday.

The Cats (13-4-1, 7-3-0 SEC) are coming off a 3-1 victory against Louisiana State University last Sunday. Two set-piece goals in the second half helped UK secure the comeback victory against the Tigers after being down 1-0 at halftime.

Junior forward Arin Gilliland scored her 11th goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 in the second half before freshman forward Zoe Swift and freshman midfielder Alex Carter scored their set-piece goals. Gilliland now leads the team in goals this season.

The win secured for UK a first-round bye in the SEC tournament, which will begin on Nov. 6. Currently, UK is seeded fourth in the tournament and remains one point behind South Carolina (14-2-2, 7-2-1 SEC) for third place.

The No. 10 Gamecocks are coming off a 1-0 victory against Mississippi State University. South Carolina will be aiming for the best regular season winning percentage in the program’s history, and will look to remain undefeated at home.

UK is 12-6-1 all-time against the Gamecocks, and has won the previous two matchups between the programs. Last year, Gilliland helped secure the 1-0 victory for the Cats in Columbia.

The Cats will be without junior forward Stuart Pope, however, as she suffered a leg injury in the victory against LSU. Pope is second on the team in goals for the season with 10.

Head coach Jon Lipsitz said the team will adapt to fill the void left by Pope’s injury.

“When injuries happen, it comes down to who’s the next one to come on to the field,” Lipsitz said after the LSU game on Sunday. “Our expectations for our play don’t change at all based upon injury.”

Gilliland said the loss of Pope is detrimental to the team, but other players will be ready to take on a bigger role for the future, including herself.

“Our bench is deep enough, and we have people ready to step up,” Gilliland said. “We showed that against LSU, and it’s a great testament to what kind of team we can be.”