Clarke strikes as LSU soccer falls at South Carolina

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Summer ClarkeCOLUMBIA, S.C. – Summer Clarke’s 26th-minute equalizer sent the Tigers into the locker room on level terms at halftime, but two goals just 72 seconds apart late in the second half was enough to give the home side the points as LSU dropped a 3-1 decision at No. 8-ranked South Carolina on Thursday night at Stone Stadium.

The Tigers (6-5, 1-2 SEC) saw their two-match winning streak snapped with Thursday’s defeat at South Carolina (9-0-1, 3-0) while dropping just their second match in their last seven outings this season.

The Gamecocks seized the initiative just 10 minutes into the match with a far-post finish by All-SEC forward Savannah McCaskill as she found separation near the top of the box on the right side and fired on frame from 20 yards for her SEC-leading 10th goal of the season at the 9:01 mark. McCaskill scored unassisted with the first shot on target of the match following her run through midfield.

LSU goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier was called into action a minute later with a fine save from Chelsea Drennan’s header eight yards in front of goal following a Gamecock free kick near the midfield stripe. Brockmeier was quick to react again in the 13th minute after Sophie Groff was played through on the break in the right side of the area as she raced off her line to close down the angle and kept the deficit at 1-0.

The Tigers would strike back through Clarke in the 26th minute as LSU’s two-time All-SEC striker snapped a scoreless streak of 398 minutes by the Gamecock defense with her second goal of the season.

Clarke was played through the South Carolina defense by sophomore Alex Thomas after taking possession inside LSU’s own defensive half. The senior from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, was ruthless as she ran through the middle of the area, composed herself with Gamecock goalkeeper Mika Krzeczowski sprinting off her line and found the back of the net from eight yards to level the match at 1-1 at the 25:08 mark.

It was the first goal conceded by the Gamecocks to any opponent in the first half of a match this season as Clarke ended a run of four-straight clean sheets for the home side to draw LSU level before the break.

Brockmeier was up to the task again in the second half to keep the Tigers level as she denied Daija Griffin’s one-time effort on a teasing ball played across the six-yard box by McCaskill in the 62nd minute. McCaskill was denied herself on a shot back across the face of goal to the far post as Brockmeier made a diving save to her right in the 68th minute.

Brockmeier matched her season-high with eight saves on the night after she also saved eight shots on target against No. 14-ranked Virginia Tech on Aug. 19 and at No. 11-ranked Texas A&M on Sept. 11 of this year.

But the Gamecocks would secure the three points with two quick-fire goals in the span of 72 seconds late in the match when Drennan first finished to the far post from close range on a through ball played into the left side of the penalty area by Groff in the 74th minute. Groff herself converted a penalty kick in the 76th minute after McCaskill was fouled just inside the penalty area.

The Tigers will next make the trip to Nashville, Tennessee, on Sunday afternoon where they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at the VU Soccer Complex with kickoff set for 1 p.m. CT on the SEC Network+. They are set to return home to the LSU Soccer Stadium next weekend to play host to No. 9-ranked Florida on Friday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m.

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