Aug. 18, 2011
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By Miquel Jacobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina women's soccer team opens its 2011 season in Greenville, N.C., to begin a four-match season opening road swing. The No. 21 Gamecocks will help East Carolina christen its new ECU Soccer Stadium before meeting No. 12 Duke in Durham for a Sunday matinee. The meetings are the third against both the Pirates and Blue Devils in the all-time series'.
The Gamecocks return six starters from last season's SEC regular season and tournament runner-up team that went 15-6-4 with a berth in the NCAA Second Round. Senior forward Kayla Grimsley is an All-American candidate and was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List after her record breaking junior campaign that saw her capture the school's single-season points record (34 points).
All-SEC players Ellen Fahey and Danielle Au return in addition to starters Dani Henry, Liz Sinclair and Maria Petroni. Fahey anchors a backline that ended the SEC regular season first in every major defensive category, and will look to join the recent club of departed players Blakely Mattern and Brittiny Rhoades as All-American players. Au, an SEC All-Freshman Team selection, will compliment Grimsley in the attack with an enhanced attacking role.
Henry and Sinclair contributed to South Carolina's 17th-ranked defense last season, and Petroni started 24 of Carolina's 25 games last season as a winger.
The team will break in a new goalkeeper in 2011 with the graduation of Mollie Patton, who left Columbia as one of the top goalkeepers in NCAA history. A quartet of athletes are poised to play between the pipes with senior Roya Mojarab wielding the most experience and redshirt sophomores Alex Holland and Darien Vercillo making waves during the preseason. True freshman Sabrina D'Angelo brings Canadian national team experience to the position as a starter for the U17 team and will push the upperclassmen for the starting position after being named an SEC Preseason Watch List selection.
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