Aug. 15, 2012
By Miquel Jacobs
Assistant Media Relations Director
|#24 South Carolina at UW-Milwaukee | Friday, August 17 | 7 p.m. CT|
|GameTracker | Live Webcast (Free) | Game Notes|
|#24 South Carolina at Minnesota | Sunday, August 19 | 12 p.m. CT|
|GameTracker | Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium Information | Game Notes|
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina women's soccer team opens its 2012 season on the road with a trip to the Great Lakes region to take on UW-Milwaukee and Minnesota. The No. 24 Gamecocks will earn the distinction of ushering in new eras of Panthers and Golden Gophers soccer as both programs welcome new head coaches this season. The meetings are the first between South Carolina and Milwaukee, and the second between South Carolina and Minnesota.
The Gamecocks return six starters from last season's SEC championship team that went 16-7-0 with a berth in the NCAA Second Round. Sophomore goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo is an All-America candidate after earning Freshman All-America honors in 2011 in a season that saw the Canadian earn SEC Freshman, Goalkeeper and Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. D'Angelo will miss the first four to six games of the season while competing for her country at the Under-20 Women's World Cup in Japan.
All-SEC player Danielle Au returns in addition to starters Dani Henry, Elizabeth Sinclair, Christa Neary, Ali Whitney and Andie Romness. Au will be looked upon to help fill the void vacated by the loss of two-time All-American and SEC Player of the Year Kayla Grimsley, who departs as the school's all-time leading point scorer. There is no shortage of Gamecocks looking to earn time on the wings with freshman Coryn Bajema and junior Gabrielle Gilbert joining the likes of Alexa Gainey, Lani Smith, Rae Wilson and Courtney Angotti-Smith as possible early starters.
Henry anchors a backline that ended the SEC regular season first in nearly every major defensive category, and she will lead a trio of sophomores in Neary, Whitney and Romness into what is expected to be the strength of the team with each player earning at least 12 starts in the record-breaking 2011 championship campaign.
Sinclair returns her career average of 89 minutes per game to the midfield to lead a group that includes third-year players Taylor Leach and Samantha Gonzalez along with newcomers Stevi Parker and Raina Johnson.
ON THE HORIZON
The Gamecocks return home for the remainder of the non-conference portion of the schedule beginning with a Thursday night opener against Mercer. South Carolina's next six matches will be at Stone Stadium, ending with a televised SEC match against Missouri on Sunday, September 16.
SOUTH CAROLINA IN SEASON OPENERS
South Carolina enters 2012 with an all-time record of 10-5-2 in season openers. Three games have gone to overtime - College of Charleston (2001), Clemson (2003) and UNC Wilmington (2008). In home contests, the Gamecocks boast a perfect 6-0 record, outscoring opponents 19-2. When heading on the road to open the season, Carolina carries an even 4-4-2 record overall after a 4-0 victory at East Carolina last season. Friday's Milwaukee match marks the sixth time in the past seven seasons that Carolina has opened the season on the road. The Gamecocks are 1-2 against ranked opponents, falling to #20 and #13 ranked teams but defeating #1 UNC in 2007. Under Coach Smith, the Gamecocks have gone 7-2-2 in season openers.
Milwaukee was picked by the coaches to finish first in the Horizon League for the 13th straight year and is coming off a program-best 19-3-0 campaign that resulted in the 12th consecutive league title. After losing the most accomplished class in program history that was led by All-American Sarah Hagen, Milwaukee ushers in a new era under first-year head coach Greg Henschel. The Panthers return six starters from last season's team, including senior goalkeeper Jamie Forbes who was the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and a first team All-Region selection. Senior Helen Steinhauser is the leading returning scorer after a 13-point campaign. The Panthers are receiving votes in the NSCAA Preseason Poll.
Minneosta also welcomes in a new era under first-year coach Stefanie Golan who takes over a team that returns nine starters and finished fifth in the Big Ten. Sophomore Taylor Uhl leads the pack as the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American after a 15-goal, four assist (34 points) campaign in 2011. Redshirt senior Cat Parkhill returns to be a four-year starter in goal with a 0.93 career goals against average to go along with 20 career shutouts. The meeting is the second between the Gamecocks and Gophers with Minnesota claiming a 3-1 victory in Columbia in 2010.
FIRST TIME OPPONENTS
South Carolina's schedule is filled with familiar faces this season with only three first-time opponent on the schedule in 2012. The Gamecocks have never played Milwaukee, Jacksonville or new SEC opponent Missouri. Last season, Carolina went 1-0-0 against first time opponents with a 1-0 double overtime victory at Arizona.
IN THE POLLS
South Carolina opens the season ranked No. 24 in the NSCAA preseason coaches poll. The Gamecocks also come in at No. 31 by Top Drawer Soccer.
FOUR GAMECOCKS NAMED TO SEC PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Four Gamecocks were named to the SEC's Preseason Watch List, which has taken over from the previous Preseason All-SEC poll. Senior Dani Henry, junior Danielle Au, sophomore goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo and freshman Stevi Parker were selected to the list. Au and D'Angelo have both earned postseason All-SEC honors in their careers with D'Angelo entering 2012 as the reigning SEC Freshman, Goalkeeper and Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Henry leads a backline that has been tops in the SEC the past two seasons. Parker enters her career as a player to watch in the midfield.