COLUMBIA, S.C. - Freshman Jade Kovacevic scored her second goal of the season late in the second half and junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman turned in another fine defensive performance with seven saves on the night, but the LSU Soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to South Carolina in a Friday night tilt at Stone Stadium.
With South Carolina seemingly holding a comfortable 2-0 lead late in the second half, Kovacevic pulled one back directly off a corner kick in the 81st minute as she struck the far post with a right-footed service from the left corner flag that found the back of the net at the 80:36 mark to pull the Tigers to within 2-1.
Junior striker Danielle Murphy won the corner kick for the Tigers after firing a header on frame that was saved over the crossbar by Gamecock goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo following a cross into the box by Kovacevic attacking down the left flank.
Kovacevic got the better of her Canadian Under-20 teammate as she curled her corner kick service over the head of D'Angelo and into the side netting for her second goal of the campaign.
But despite Kovacevic's late heroics, the Tigers (6-6-4, 2-5-2 SEC) dropped their second-straight match to the Gamecocks (5-6-4, 2-4-3) dating back to the 2011 regular season.
Striker Lani Smith scored the breakthrough for the Gamecocks in the 36th minute of play with her second goal of the season as she buried a centering pass into the six-yard box by Caroline Gray following an attack down the right flank by midfielder Danielle Au after taking possession in the attacking third.
After Au hit Gray in stride streaking to the end line, Gray's centering pass had too much pace for Kinneman to glove it one-handed in the six-yard box as she came diving off her line to defend. Smith was standing alone in the six-yard box for the easy finish at the 35:16 mark within a minute of checking into the game.
The Gamecocks wasted no time in pushing their lead to 2-0 as defender Christa Neary netted her first career goal on a corner kick in the 53rd minute.
Kinneman made a tremendous defensive effort on the initial attack by the Gamecocks as she came racing off her line to make a diving save on a shot by forward Coryn Bajema on a breakaway following a through ball by one of the Gamecock midfielders. But Neary positioned herself at the top of the six-yard box on the ensuring corner kick and fired her header into the back of the net on the service by defender Andie Romness to give South Carolina a 2-0 lead at the 52:42 mark.
Neary's effort proved to be the game-winner as the Gamecocks secured a valuable three points in their bid to qualify for the 2012 SEC Women's Soccer Tournament beginning later this month.
The Tigers will head to Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday afternoon as they battle the 23rd-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers in an inter-divisional derby scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. CDT at the Regal Soccer Stadium. The Tigers will remain on the road next weekend as they travel to face Ole Miss in Oxford on Friday, Oct. 19, and Missouri in Columbia on Sunday, Oct. 21.