Spartanburg, S.C. – Mollie Waters scored in the first half to give the USC Upstate women's soccer team a 1-0 lead and the Spartans had a couple of late scoring opportunities thwarted as Upstate took a 1-1 draw against The Citadel in a preseason scrimmage game at County University Soccer Stadium Sunday afternoon.
For the second straight scrimmage game, Upstate struck first against The Citadel's defense. After being played a ball 30 yards out from the goal, Becky Sanzsole (Kitchener, Ontario) took on two Bulldog defenders, juked her final defender, then played a forward ball to Waters (Piedmont, S.C.) all alone in the center of the box. Waters drew the keeper, Naomi Carter, off her line and put a shot into the right side of the goal to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
The Citadel nearly tied the game in the 25th minute when Mariana Garcia took possession on the left side of the box and lifted a shot toward the goal. The ball cleared the Upstate defense and hit the crossbar, but Upstate was able to clear the ball from any further danger and maintain its 1-0 lead.
Upstate nearly made it a 2-0 lead in the 30th minute, but Carter made a great charging save to prevent the goal. Sanzsole again looked to generate the offense, playing a great give-and-go with Kenzie Major (Rome, Ga.). Major was able to just get a foot on the ball and get a shot off before a charging Carter came up with the save.
Upstate finished the first half with a 5-3 advantage in shots and a 1-0 lead.
The Citadel's Kim Maldonado nearly tied the match early in the second half. She fired a shot toward goal, but Upstate keeper Ellen Bright (Fort Mill, S.C.) deflected the ball over the net for a Bulldog corner kick. Bright started the second half after Sarah Plantz (Cartersville, Ga.) started the game and kept The Citadel from scoring in the first 45 minutes.
Garcia nearly tied the match in the first half, but her shot hit the crossbar. Her second solid scoring opportunity was different. With the ball deep in Upstate territory, the ball was played to her of the elft side of the box and she managed to get a header off over Bright and into the net to tie the game at 1-1 in the 68th minute.
Upstate put together a couple of scoring chances around 10 minutes left to play, but each time, shots went wide of the goal with players one-on-one with the keeper.
Bright came up huge for Upstate with a little less than seven minutes to play. With The Citadel on a 4-on-2 break, the ball was played off to the right center of the box to an open Nicholle Griffith. However, Bright came off her line and deflected the shot to keep the Bulldogs from finding the net.
Upstate put together two solid scoring opportunities in the final two minutes, but each time, reserve goalkeeper Sarah Katchen made two tremendous saves to keep the Spartans off the board as the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Upstate won the battle for shots during the game, owning a 10-8 lead after 90 minutes of play.
Upstate's preseason action came to an end with Sunday's match. The Spartans will open the regular season at home at County University Soccer Stadium when they host VMI Friday night at 7:00 pm.