Shelley Smith
Shelley  Smith

Position:
Head Coach

Alma Mater:
Vermont, 1993


SEC Weekly Video Feature: Shelley Smith

If there was ever any question about the program Shelley Smith has built, it was put away at the end of the 2016 season when Smith's South Carolina squad won its third piece of conference hardware and rewrote the school's record book.

The Gamecocks, who reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the second time in three years last fall, boasted program single-season records for wins (21), victories over ranked opponents (5), goals (51) and goals against average (0.41). Carolina also cemented its place in the SEC record book, as it became the first school in league history to end a regular season unbeaten (17-0-1). The Gamecocks' final mark of 21-2-1 gave them the top winning percentage (.896) in Division I and resulted in a No. 5 ranking in the final NCAA poll, the school's highest finish ever.

Carolina trailed for just 85 seconds during the regular season, and the 2016 SEC Champions didn't fall behind at all throughout conference play. After a draw in its opener against Oklahoma, Carolina closed the regular season with 17-straight victories in a stretch highlighted by home wins over No. 6 Clemson and No. 17 Florida. A victory over Texas A&M in the SEC quarterfinals pushed its program-record winning streak to 18, and the Gamecocks went on to earn the school's first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed.

The road to the 2016 College Cup went through Stone Stadium, and the Gamecocks opened the NCAA Tournament with a dominant 7-0 win over Alabama State to give Smith her 200th victory at South Carolina. In the Round of 32, Carolina earned a 1-0 victory over No. 20 Colorado behind a penalty kick goal from striker Sophie Groff. Another penalty kick was the difference for the Gamecocks in the Round of 16, as senior captain Chelsea Drennan connected from the spot in the 69th minute to give her team a 1-0 victory over No. 4 BYU. Carolina's second ended in the Elite Eight when it fell to North Carolina 1-0.

The accolades rolled in for Carolina during its record-setting 2016 campaign. Smith was tabbed the SEC Coach of the Year, while junior striker Savannah McCaskill (SEC Offensive Player of the Year) and senior center back Kaleigh Kurtz (SEC Defensive Player of the Year) also received major conference awards. A school-record six Gamecocks grabbed All-SEC honors, and five players were named to the All-Conference First Team.

Carolina earned 2016 NSCAA South Regional Coaching Staff of the Year laurels, and McCaskill and Kurtz were selected as NSCAA First-Team All-Americans. McCaskill enjoyed the finest individual season in program history, finishing with single-year school records for points (45), goals (17) and game-winners (10). Kurtz anchored a Gamecock back line that culminated in 14 shutouts, the second-best total in program history. The pair of standouts were also tabbed semifinalists for the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy, while Drennan (Second Team), the school's all-time leader in assists (40), marked the final Gamecock to garner NSCAA All-America honors. Carolina's two first-team All-America selections and three overall honorees matched the most in Division I.

The Gamecocks posted a mark of 12-5-3 in 2015, finishing with double-digit wins for the third-straight year. South Carolina featured one of the program’s most prolific offenses of Smith’s tenure, as a school-record 17 players netted goals. The Gamecocks tallied 44 goals, and their 2.2 goals per match were good for the fifth-best mark in school history.

McCaskill, a 2015 Third-Team NSCAA All-American, spearheaded the offensive attack with 29 points on 10 goals and nine assists. Her 29 points were the seventh-highest for a Gamecock in a season in program history, and she was the third player to total double-digit goals in the last five seasons for South Carolina. McCaskill and senior forward Raina Johnson grabbed All-SEC honors, and the two joined Drennan and midfielder Stevi Parker on the list of Gamecocks to be placed on NSCAA All-South Region Teams.    

South Carolina, which tallied two wins over top-10 opponents for the second-straight season, remained among the nation’s elite in 2015 and finished in the top 20 of the NSCAA Final Regular Season poll for the sixth time in the last seven years. The Gamecocks were ranked in the Top 25 of the national poll the entire regular season, and they qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine years.

After a regular season that saw Smith collect her 200th career head coaching victory, a pair of wins over top-10 teams and Savannah McCaskill earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors, a postseason run cemented the 2014 team's place in the record book. The Gamecocks were awarded their second-straight national seed in the NCAA Tournament after posting a 14-6-5 record and an SEC Tournament Semifinal appearance and hosted rival Clemson in the first round. A heart-stopping penalty kick shootout the No. 22 Tigers at Stone Stadium ultimately ended with South Carolina advancing. Against Seattle in the second round, the Gamecocks earned their second-straight shutout, despite missing All-American Sabrina D'Angelo in goal due to an injury. Freshman Abbey Crider stepped between the pipes for her first collegiate start and delivered two crucial saves in the team's second round of penalty kicks in as many games to move the Gamecocks on to the Round of 16 for just the second time in school history.

Two days later, Crider posted her second shutout of the weekend, this time against No. 6 North Carolina on their home turf. The 1-0 victory advanced South Carolina to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. Florida State proved to be too much in the national quarterfinal, but the program had taken another step and wrapped up the season ranked No. 9 in the final NSCAA rankings.

After only seven wins in 2012, Smith's program re-emerged on the national scene in 2013, rising to as high as No. 7 in the NSCAA poll. A 1-0 defeat of No. 7 Duke during the opening weekend was just the beginning. With only one loss on their record heading to No. 8 Florida in early October, the Gamecocks became the first program in the SEC to topple the Gators in consecutive matches in Gainesville, Fla., (2011 & 2013) as they pulled off a dramatic 2-1 win in double overtime. It marked the first time in program history that a Gamecock team had defeated a pair of top-10 opponents in the same season. On its home field, the squad never wavered, posting the first perfect home record (11-0-0) in program history, allowing just four goals at The Graveyard. The run helped the squad become the first Carolina team to enter the postseason ranked in the Top 10. The season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Stanford for the second time in three years, and Carolina's final record of 17-4-2 resulted in a No. 15 ranking in the last NSCAA poll.

With the successful season, the accolades began to come as goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo earned NSCAA First-Team All-America honors behind 12 shutouts and a 0.59 goals against average. Along with D'Angelo, defender Taylor Leach and forward Danielle Au earned All-South Region accolades. Along with being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career, D'Angelo, was paired with centerback Taylor Leach on the All-SEC First Team, while midfielder Chelsea Drennan was selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team. D'Angelo's big season also earned her spot on the coveted semifinal list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, becoming the first Gamecock to earn the distinction. Carolina's success has also been apparent in the classroom under Smith, who has coached 242 SEC Academic Honor Roll recipients since coming to USC in 2001. South Carolina has earned an Academic All-America selection in nine of the past 12 seasons.

Smith has coached several top student-athletes at Carolina including Ashley Kirk, USC's first four-time All-SEC honoree, and Carolina's All-Americans - Blakely Mattern, Kayla Grimsley, Savannah McCaskill, Sabrina D'Angelo, Kaleigh Kurtz and Chelsea Drennan. Other notable Gamecocks include two-time All-SEC performers Melinda Carter, Jessica Julin and Sarah Lentz. Julin, a former captain of the Finland National Team, and Carter and Mattern played in the WUSA and WPS, respectively. After the 2014 season, D'Angelo became program's first NWSL draftee, going 22nd overall in the third round to the Western New York Flash. The All-American subsequently became the only rookie goalkeeper to earn a regular starting job in 2015.

The Gamecocks have earned 45 All-SEC honors in the last 16 years and six players have collected an SEC Player of the Year (player, freshman, offensive, defensive or scholar) award. In her first season as head coach at Carolina (2001), the Gamecocks were the third-most improved team in the nation with an 8-7-3 overall record. Carolina also performed well at home with a 5-3 at Stone Stadium while allowing opponents to score only four goals in eight matches. The success continued for USC in 2002 with 13 wins in Smith's second season. The year was highlighted with USC's first ever victories against Florida and Kentucky. Smith also coached her team to ties against 2002 SEC champion Auburn and Eastern Division champion Tennessee. Smith led the Gamecocks to another successful season in 2003 with 10 wins including a USC record eight-game unbeaten streak as well as a 6-2-1 record at home in Stone Stadium.

The 2004 season featured a win over No. 7 Clemson, the Gamecocks' first win over a ranked opponent since 1998, as well as a 6-3 mark in non-conference action. Ashley Kirk also became the first soccer player in school history to be named SEC Freshman of the Year. Following an injury filled 2005 season, the program took a big step forward in 2006 as USC went undefeated at home for the first time in school history with an 8-0-3 mark at Stone Stadium. The team posted a cumulative goals against average of 0.69, then the lowest ever tallied at Carolina. The season culminated with the Gamecocks advancing to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the first time in Carolina history, as Blakely Mattern became the team's first Freshman All-America selection since 1998.

Smith directed the 2007 Gamecocks to one of the best season in school history at that time, tying the then-school record with 14 victories and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history. Carolina posted a 14-6-3 overall record, including a 5-4-2 mark in the SEC after beginning the season by becoming the first team ever to knock off defending national champion and top-ranked North Carolina in a season opening game at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill. The Gamecocks ran to a 7-0-0 start to the season - then-program bests for start to a season and winning streak - and peaked at No. 7 in the national polls. For the second consecutive season, South Carolina advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals after knocking off Tennessee for the first time in program history and earned the school's first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1998. Blakely Mattern became the first sophomore to ever earn SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in addition to becoming the first All-American in South Carolina history.

Carolina moved into the upper echelon of programs after Smith guided the Gamecocks in 2009 to the program's first SEC title and a berth in the NCAA Round of 16, earning her SEC Coach of the Year and NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year honors. South Carolina was a No. 2 national seed in the NCAA tournament and posted a 19-4-2 record, the second-best in school history. The Gamecocks finished as one of the top defensive teams in the nation with a school-record 15 shutouts, led by Mattern on the backline who was a consensus first team All-American and Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist in her final season. Grimsley finished the year with 33 points and was named an honorable mention All-American by Top Drawer Soccer. The team finished eighth in the nation in average attendance.

In 2011, Smith earned both NSCAA South Region and SEC Coach of the Year honors for the second time in three years after solidifying South Carolina as an elite conference contender and nationally-acclaimed program. The Gamecocks won the 2011 SEC regular season and eastern division titles with a 9-2-0 record and moved to the NCAA Second Round for the third consecutive year - one of only two SEC programs to do so in that span. From 2007-11, Smith led the Gamecocks to 75 overall and 34 SEC victories, marks that ranked second amongst the league's 12 active coaches during that span. She guided her teams to back-to-back SEC Championship Game appearances, winning the title in 2009 and claiming second in 2010, and Smith saw her team play for the SEC title on the final day of the regular season each of the past three seasons, breaking through in 2011 with a 2-1 victory at No. 18 Florida.

In 20 years as a head coach, Smith has compiled an overall record of 243-140-45. Besides her collegiate coaching, Smith was a member of the Region III ODP staff for the past six years, as well as an assistant for the `90 Regional Team. Smith also was a member of the 2003 U-14 National Camp staff for U.S. Soccer. With a background in both semi-professional and collegiate soccer, Smith previously served as head coach at Rhode Island from 1997-2000. The 2000 NSCAA Northeast Region Coach of the Year, Smith rebuilt the URI women's soccer program, compiling a 41-34-2 overall record. Smith took a program that was 2-16 her first year to 12-6-1 in her second season, marking the eighth-most improved won-lost record for a team in NCAA history.

In 2000, Smith coached URI to its best record ever of 15-4-1, while reaching the Atlantic 10 Semifinals, a first in URI history. Smith was nominated for the 2000 National Coach of the Year. The New England Women's Soccer Intercollegiate Soccer Association (NEWISA) also named her its Division I Coach of the Year in 2000. She was the 1998 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year as well.

In addition to her experience as a coach, Smith brings experience from the semi-professional level. From 1996-2000, Smith played for the Boston Renegades in the W-1 League. Smith was captain in 2000 as she led Boston to the semifinals in the W-1 Championship. The Renegades reached the finals in 1998. Smith also had the opportunity to play overseas in 1994 as a member of the Sheffield United Women's Football Club in England.

Smith, a 1993 graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in nutritional science, received her teacher's certificate from the same institution in 1995. Smith started all four years for the Catamounts. Her primary positions were center midfielder and central defender. She was a regional All-American in both 1992 and `93 in addition to being named First Team All-North Atlantic Conference each year from 1991-93. During her freshman year, the squad won the ECAC Tournament. Vermont was one of the first programs to offer women's soccer as a varsity sport and it competed on a national level. Smith was named to Vermont's Athletic Hall of Fame in the summer of 2004.

Smith worked as an assistant coach at Dartmouth College from 1995-97. The Big Green made the NCAA Tournament in her second season with the program.

Smith is married to South Carolina associate head coach Jamie Smith, a 1994 graduate of Providence College. They are the proud parents of two sons, Braden James, born on Nov. 25, 2003 and Evan Addison born on Jan. 6, 2006. The family resides in Columbia, S.C. Smith has her USSF B license and the NCAA Advanced National Diploma. She is currently a member of the USYSA Regional Olympic Development Staff. A native of Shaftsbury, Vt., Smith graduated from Mount Anthony Union High School in 1989.

Shelley Smith's Career Coaching Record
YEAR School Won Loss Tied Pct. Postseason Finish
1997 Rhode Island 2 16 0 .111 -
1998 Rhode Island 12 6 1 .658 -
1999 Rhode Island 12 8 0 .600 -
2000 Rhode Island 15 4 1 .775 A-10 semifinals
2001 South Carolina 8 7 3 .528 -
2002 South Carolina 13 6 2 .667 SEC Quarterfinals
2003 South Carolina 10 8 3 .548 SEC Quarterfinals
2004 South Carolina 8 10 2 .450 -
2005 South Carolina 6 12 0 .333 -
2006 South Carolina 11 6 5 .614 SEC Semifinals
2007 South Carolina 14 6 3 .674 SEC Semifinals; NCAA First Round
2008 South Carolina 11 7 4 .591 SEC Quarterfinals; NCAA First Round
2009 South Carolina 19 4 2 .800 SEC Tournament Champions; NCAA Round of 16
2010 South Carolina 15 6 4 .680 SEC Championship Game; NCAA Second Round
2011 South Carolina 16 7 0 .696 SEC Champions; SEC Quarterfinals; NCAA Second Round
2012 South Carolina 7 10 4 .428 SEC Quarterfinals
2013 South Carolina 17 4 2 .783 SEC Semifinals; NCAA Second Round
2014 South Carolina 14 6 5 .660 SEC Semifinals; NCAA Quarterfinals
2015 South Carolina 12 5 3 .675 SEC Quarterfinals; NCAA First Round
2016 South Carolina 21 2 1 .896 SEC Champions; SEC Semifinals; NCAA Quarterfinals
Rhode Island (4 Years) 41 34 2 .560 -
South Carolina (16 Years)
202 106 43 .637 Three SEC Championships; 9-9-2 NCAA Tournament Record
OVERALL (20 Years) 243 140 45 .620 Nine NCAA Appearances