No. 11 Gamecocks Open Regular Season vs. Northeastern
WEEKEND INFORMATION Date/Opponent: Fri., Aug. 21 vs. Northeastern Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET Location: Columbia, S.C. Stadium: Stone Stadium SEC Network + | FREE Live Stats | Tickets Promotions: Fan Appreciation Night – post match autographs with the team on the concourse, Hawaii Statehood Night – celebrate the end of summer by wearing your favorite tropical gear/first 100 students receive free ice pops Date/Opponent: Sun., Aug. 23 vs. Oklahoma Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET Location: Columbia, S.C. Stadium: Stone Stadium SEC Network + | FREE Live Stats | Tickets Promotions: Rally towel giveaway (while supplies last) SCOUTING NORTHEASTERN Northeastern returns 21 players from last season‘s 15-5-3 campaign, second consecutive CAA Championship and first-ever win in an NCAA tournament game last year with a 2-0 win over Boston University in the opening round. The Huskies return all three of their top scorers in sophomore Kayala Cappuzoo, junior Mackenzie Dowd and sophomore Hannah Lopiccolo, reigning CAA Rookie of the Year. The trio earned preseason All-CAA Honors and Northeastern was picked to win the conference for the third year in a row. This marks the first time the Gamecocks will open the season against Northeastern. South Carolina leads the all-time series with the Huskies 3-0, including a 3-0 victory in 2013, the last time the two schools met. SOUTH CAROLINA IN SEASON OPENERS South Carolina enters 2015 with an all-time record of 12-5-3 in season openers. Four games have gone to overtime – College of Charleston (2001), Clemson (2003), UNC Wilmington (2008) and Milwaukee (2012). In home contests, the Gamecocks boast a perfect 7-0 record, outscoring opponents 21-2. When heading on the road to open the season, South Carolina carries a 5-4-3 record overall. Under Shelley Smith, the Gamecocks have gone 9-2-3 in season openers. SCOUTING OKLAHOMA Oklahoma returns 17 players from last season‘s squad that posted a 10-9-4 overall record, finished second in the Big 12 and advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament. Leading scorers Devin Barrett and Madeline Brem are back this season, along with goalkeeper Kaitlyn Fahrner who started 22 of 23 games. The Sooners head to Greenville, S.C. to face Furman on Fri., Aug. 21 before making the trip to Columbia for Sunday‘s match. GUESS WHO‘S BACK All five of South Carolina‘s top scorers from a year ago return to action this fall. Chelsea Drennan led the Gamecocks in assists in each of the past two seasons and finished her 2014 campaign with 13 points on three goals and seven assists. The junior standout has totaled 27 points in her first two seasons at South Carolina. Sophie Groff was the top goal-scorer of 2014 as she netted six throughout the season. The junior forward added three assists to cap off the year with 15 points. Raina Johnson tallied a team-best four game-winners in 2014. She finished her junior season with five goals and was one of four players to record double-digit points (11). Johnson has started in all but one match for the Gamecocks over the last two seasons. Reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Savannah McCaskill finished with a team-high 15 points (5G, 5A) last season. The forward led the Gamecocks with 60 shots and was one of nine South Carolina players to record a game-winner in 2014. Her 25 games started last season matched a program freshman record, and she was one of three Gamecocks to receive All-SEC honors. Stevi Parker, a 2014 SEC All-Tournament Team selection, started all 25 matches last season. She was voted South Carolina‘s team MVP last season after recording a career-high seven points on three goals and one assist. HISTORY MAKERS The Gamecocks reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history in 2014 and the No. 9 ranking at the end of the year matched the 2009 team‘s mark for the best season-ending rank in school history. HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE South Carolina posted an 8-3-1 record at “The Graveyard” last season and in 2013 the Gamecocks streaked to a perfect 11-0-0 record at home, the first in program history. PRESEASON SEC The SEC coaches selected South Carolina to finish fourth in the league with Florida, Texas A&M and Kentucky claiming the top three spots. Four Gamecocks were named to the SEC Preseason Watch List – junior midfielder Chelsea Drennan, senior forward Raina Johnson and a pair of midfielders in senior Stevi Parker and sophomore Savannah McCaskill. RANKINGS The NSCAA has the Gamecocks at the No. 11 spot in its preseason poll; the highest ever mark for South Carolina in the preseason. Three other SEC schools are ranked, with Texas A&M at No. 5, Florida at No. 8 and Kentucky at No. 16. The Gamecocks are also ranked 12th by TopDrawerSoccer.com. EXHIBITION PLAY South Carolina kicked off 2015 with a 3-0 win over NC State in its lone exhibition match. McCaskill and juniors Daija Griffin and Vanessa Kovar recorded goals for the Gamecocks while sophomore Abbey Crider and senior Caroline Kelly split time in the net. UP NEXT The Gamecocks hit the road to face in-state rival Clemson on Fri., Aug. 28. The match is slated for 5 p.m. ET at Riggs Field in Clemson, S.C.