Gamecocks Face NC State In Home Opener Thursday
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) – South Carolina women’s soccer is set to host NC State in its home opener Thu., Aug. 25, before facing UCF on the road on Sun., Aug. 28. Both contests kick off at 7 p.m. ET.
This fall, South Carolina soccer matches are included in the Athletics Department’s new clear bag policy for all ticketed athletics events in a move designed to provide a safer environment and more expedited entry for fans. The Athletics Department encourages fans to not bring any type of bag to games, but understands that there are some who prefer to do so. The new policy will limit the size and type of bags that may be brought into South Carolina Athletics events. Information on the Clear Bag Policy and other Game Day Policies can be found online.
Date/Opponent: Thu., Aug. 25 vs. NC State
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Stadium: Stone Stadium
Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com
Date/Opponent: Sun., Aug. 28 at UCF
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Stadium: UCF Soccer Complex
Live Stats: UCFKnights.com
FROM THE COACH
“We’re expecting a big crowd Thursday, and that makes it a lot tougher on the opponent. We’ll be excited, and we definitely can’t wait to see the fans. We have a few games in a row that I know people can be excited about. We have some familiarity with the NC State players, but they are playing a lot of freshmen and newcomers. We’re probably expecting something a bit different this week. And the fact that UCF on Sunday won’t be our first road test will definitely be an advantage.” – Shelley Smith
SCOUTING NC STATE
The Wolfpack opened their season at the Wake Forest Tournament, where they split a pair of matches. They picked up a 6-1 victory in Friday’s season opener against La Salle before falling to San Diego, 1-0, on Sunday. Redshirt junior forward Jackie Stengel collected a hat trick in the opener against the Explorers, while senior forward Rachel Cox ended her weekend with five points on two goals and an assist. NC State, which was picked to finish 13th in the ACC this fall, enters its fourth season under coach Tim Santoro.
South Carolina is 4-1-0 all-time against the Wolfpack in a series that dates back to 1998. Thursday will mark the first regular-season contest between the two since 2003.
The Knights kicked off their 2016 campaign against two ranked opponents at the Carolina Nike Contest. UCF dropped both matches, falling to No. 9 UNC, 2-0, on Friday and No. 3 Duke, 3-1, on Sunday. Senior forward Cortney O’Connell registered the weekend’s lone goal against the Blue Devils, finding the back of the net in the 31st minute. The Knights have reached the NCAA Tournament in each of their three seasons under head coach Tiffany Roberts, including a berth in the round of 16 in 2014.
The Gamecocks earned a 1-0 win in their only meeting with UCF back in 2009 at Stone Stadium. Former South Carolina All-American Kayla Grimsley tallied the game-winner in the victory, scoring in the 28th minute.
South Carolina posted a 1-0-1 mark in its opening weekend at the Nike Sooner Classic against Oklahoma and Tulsa. The Gamecocks played to a 1-1 draw on Friday against the Sooners before downing Tulsa, 4-1, on Sunday. Senior defender Paige Bendell tallied the goal against Oklahoma, scoring off a header in the 19th minute, while freshman goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski recorded eight saves in the draw.
The Gamecock attack broke through early against Tulsa, netting two goals in the opening 10 minutes. Junior forward Savannah McCaskill led the way in the win, as she notched a hat trick and finished the game with four shots on goal. Redshirt senior forward Bay Daniel added the other goal, and junior defender Anna Conklin chipped in a pair of assists.
HAT TRICK HERO
Junior forward Savannah McCaskill’s performance against Tulsa marked the seventh hat trick in program history. The Chapin, S.C., native became the sixth player to accomplish the feat, as she joined former Gamecocks Brooke Jacobs, Erin Sullivan, Jennie Ondo, Debbie Smith and Perry Moniuszko. Ondo boasted two hat tricks throughout her career, while McCaskill’s effort on Sunday marked South Carolina’s first three-goal performance since 2010.
SOUTH CAROLINA IN HOME OPENERS
The Gamecocks enter 2016 with an all-time record of 16-4-1 in home openers. South Carolina boasts a mark of 13-1-0 in home openers under Shelley Smith, with its lone loss coming against Furman in 2003. The Gamecocks, who began their season with a 4-1 win over Northeastern at Stone Stadium last fall, has won each of their last 12 home openers.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Gamecocks Chelsea Drennan and Savannah McCaskill both moved up South Carolina’s record book following their performances this past weekend. Drennan’s assist on Friday gave her 30 for her career and moved her three away from the program record. The senior captain also ranks second with nine career game-winning assists.
With Sunday’s hat trick, McCaskill moved up to No. 8 on the all-time scoring list with 18 goals. Her 14 career assists currently rank eighth.
Following the UCF match, South Carolina begins a four-match homestand on Fri. Sept. 2, against No. 8 Clemson. The game, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, will mark the first contest between the two at Stone Stadium since the Gamecocks moved past the Tigers in penalty kicks in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.