Feb. 17, 2016
By Brad Muller | More Features
Former South Carolina goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo has faced and thwarted shots from some of the best college and professional soccer players during her career. The Welland, Ontario, native hopes to someday take on the world as a member of Canada’s national team, which is attempting to qualify for the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Even if she doesn’t make it to Rio as a member of the team this year, it won’t slow down her resolve.
“For the qualifier they take 20 players,” D’Angelo said after making the most recent cut. “For the Olympics, they have to cut two people, and they will only take two goalkeepers for that. Right now I am the third goalkeeper, so unless one of the other goalkeepers gets injured, I probably wouldn’t go to the Olympics this time. I would be so excited if I made it someday though. It would be an honor.”
D’Angelo enjoyed a well-decorated career in her four seasons (2011-2014) with the Gamecocks before graduating in 2015. She ranks second in program history in shutouts (29) and goals against average (0.76), was twice named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and stands as the only Gamecock to earn two First-Team All-America honors. She was drafted No. 21 overall by the Western New York Flash in the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), and she started seven matches in her debut season before being sidelined due to a shoulder injury. Now that she is healthy once again, she is excited about year two as a professional.
“As a rookie, I think I held back a little bit,” D’Angelo said. “I think I played nervous and not like myself. So I’m excited to take what I’ve learned in the (Team Canada) camps and transfer that over to the NWSL so I can make more of a mark.”
Because it is an Olympic year, D’Angelo has been training year-round between her commitments with the Canadian national team and her professional team. She has enjoyed playing in inter-squad scrimmages with the national team, and is eagerly waiting for the opportunity to face international competition.
I loved the fans and the atmosphere at Stone Stadium. The Friday night games under the lights, and the thrill of running out of the tunnel and playing your game - nothing beats that.
D’Angelo is not a stranger to representing her country, having made her debut in the Canadian youth program in 2007 at the age of 14. She won a bronze medal with Canada at the 2008 CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship, represented Canada at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand the following year, and won a gold medal at the 2010 CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship in Costa Rica. She also won a silver medal with Canada at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in Panama and represented Canada at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012.
“Each tournament has been another lesson,” D’Angelo said. “Getting to play on such a large stage and representing your country is an honor. Not many people get to do that. It’s not every day you get to put on a Team Canada jersey and go play soccer. Just being part of the youth teams, learning the different lessons, and learning more about myself has helped in my career.”
Coming to South Carolina and competing in the Southeastern Conference has also made a huge impact on her life, on and off the field.
“(Head Coach) Shelley (Smith), (Associate Head Coach) Jamie (Smith), and (Assistant Coach) Libby (Bassett) helped me grow over those four years and get me to where I needed to be,” D’Angelo said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be a professional athlete or be with the Canadian national team.
“Learning everything from the physical play in the SEC, and how (teams) exploit you if you make a mistake in the SEC, was huge. There was never an easy match in the SEC, so you really had to play well in every match.”
D’Angelo’s professional and national team commitments may experience some overlap this spring, but she is energized to give it her all, regardless of which jersey she is wearing.
“I think there are some camps within our professional season, but we’re able to get away from our pro team if we get called into the camps to train,” D’Angelo said. “I’m really enjoying it. Last year I was a little bit burned out by the end of the NWSL season. Then I took time off, and I really got that itch to play again.”
D’Angelo enjoys staying in touch with her former South Carolina coaches and teammates, and keeps tabs on what’s happening at her alma mater. Seeing the progress of the construction of South Carolina’s new locker room and weight room facility, she can’t help but be a little envious.
“It looks so unreal,” D’Angelo said. “I can’t wait to get back there and see it. We got the Dodie (Academic Enrichment Center) when I was there, and the players now get this new building, so it’s cool that everybody seems to get something different. It looks top notch. I wish I had it when I was there.”
Although she is living out her professional dreams, D’Angelo has great memories of her experiences wearing the garnet and black.
“Definitely playing at Stone Stadium is one of my best memories,” D’Angelo said. “I love it there. I loved the fans and the atmosphere at Stone Stadium. The Friday night games under the lights, and the thrill of running out of the tunnel and playing your game - nothing beats that.”
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