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Aug. 23, 2002

Columbia, S.C. – The University of South Carolina women’s soccer team opens up the 2002 season next Friday with a 4:30 p.m. match vs. Birmingham Southern at Stone Stadium. Coming off an 8-7-3 season in 2001, USC is poised to continue improvements under second-year head coach Shelley Smith and vie for spots in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.

“I think our team is anxious to start the season,” said head coach Shelley Smith. “We have a lot of newcomers who we are interested to see how they fit into our system of play. We also return eight seniors who want to return to postseason play and are very determined to have a good season.”

Brother and sister will come together on the soccer field as Carolina senior defender Kanika McAlpine reunites with her brother Keidane, head coach of Birmingham Southern.

Keidane is in his second year as head coach for BSU. The Panthers finished with an 8-6-3 record last year in Keidane’s first season at the helm.

Kanika played in all 18 matches for USC in 2001 with five starts. Kanika scored two goals and tallied one assist last year. Kanika is an SEC Academic Honor Roll member and also has been named to the USC President’s List (4.0 grade point average).

South Carolina will play host to 10 teams in 2002 at Stone Stadium including home matches with in-state rival Clemson (Sept. 11) and 2001 NCAA Women’s College Cup participant and defending SEC champion Florida (Sept. 29).

“The staff and the team are excited about the season. I’m happy with the progress our team made last fall and in our spring practices and we look to build upon this success,” said head coach Shelley Smith. “We return a majority of players from last year’s team and add newcomers who should contribute and compliment the team well. They will add much needed depth to our squad.”

Among the returnees from last year’s squad are All-SEC midfielders Jess Julin and Melinda “Bullet” Carter and senior defender and co-captain Becky Leeper. Carter also earned All-Southeast Region honors for a third year at Carolina and was named co-captain for a second consecutive year.

Carolina also returns junior goalkeeper Elise Matthews who finished the 2001 season with a school record GAA of 0.78, second best in the SEC. In addition to Matthews, is the return of senior forward Morgan McIntyre from ankle surgery. The senior from Greenville, S.C., will be a candidate for All-SEC.


Carolina returns several top players at the forward position for 2002 along with added newcomers. The Gamecocks look to improve on 37 goals scored in last season’s campaign.

After sitting out the 2001 season with an ankle injury, senior Morgan McIntyre returns to the lineup to lead the offense up top. In three years at Carolina, McIntyre has scored 20 goals for the Gamecocks.

Returning along with McIntyre up top is senior Kristen Schreiber who knocked in four goals for USC last season. Schreiber looks to continue her improvement and will battle in the box. Sophomore Ashley Gosnell is back after leading USC in goals with five in her freshman campaign. Also competing for time will be sophomore Ashley Williams, who improved over the spring and will be a dangerous threat to score. Williams and Gosnell played in all 18 matches for USC last season and will look to improve with a year experience under their belts.

Added to the mix are freshmen Lindsay Haney and Camille Toney. Haney set school records in Georgia for goals scored in a season and career, with Toney one of the top offensive players in the state of Ohio. Both players will compete for playing time.

“Our forwards will continue to improve and I look for them to increase our goal scoring this season.,” said Coach Smith. “Last year our scoring was very balanced. This year I expect our forwards to be more involved in the majority of the scoring. A plus will be having Morgan back. I think Morgan is someone who will make things happen up top and cause problems for opponents.”


All-SEC midfielders Jess Julin and Melinda Carter return for USC, as well as starters Melissa Hutson and Erica Bowie. With four players returning at midfield this year, Coach Smith believes experience at midfield will be a key ingredient to the success of the 2002 team.

Following a stint with the Finnish National Team, Julin returned to Carolina to start 11 of 12 matches at center midfield and score three goals with two assists. In her first two seasons at USC, Julin has been named All-SEC, last year earning a spot on the first team.

Joining Julin at center midfield will be junior Melissa Hutson. Hutson has made great strides in the last year and a half with the new coaching staff and will look to create chances and opportunities for the forwards from her center mid position.

“Our experience at midfield will be a major benefit for this year’s squad,” said Coach Smith. “Missy and Jess are solid in the central midfield creating chances and controlling our play. They work hard on both the offensive and defensive ends, and they are key players in our transiton game.”

After moving from defender to midfielder, senior Melinda Carter proved to be a stellar addition to the Gamecock offense with three goals and four assists on the season. Carter started all 18 matches last year at left midfield. Along with Carter at outside mid will be junior Erica Bowie. In her first year at Carolina, Bowie didn’t disappoint, proving to be a factor in the midfield.

“After moving from her defensive position last year, I think “Bullet” is now much more experienced and has adjusted well to her new role,” said Coach Smith. “She is much better at getting on the end of crosses, attacking from the outside, getting to the end lines and serving balls across to our forwards. Bowie is a versatile player who showed in the spring she can play at outside mid. She will cause problems on the outside and will be more involved in the offensive attack.”

Also in the mix at outside midfield is junior Becca Epstein. Epstein has led the Gamecocks in scoring the last two seasons and figures to be an offensive threat with her speed on the outside. Junior Alison Jarrow also returns to an outside mid position and will compete for playing time.

Freshmen Amanda Thurber and Stacy Bunchman will also compete at midfield for Carolina getting time at center mid positions. Thurber has the ability to get behind a defense with her sharp passing game. Bunchman has good composure and will play an important role in the center of the field. Bunchman could also see time up top or at a center back position.


Veteran experience is back on the defensive side of the ball for Carolina. Senior co-captain Becky Leeper returns for Carolina in the center of the defense, as well as sophomore Sarah Lentz on one of the wings. Leeper started the first 11 matches of the season last year before suffering a season-ending injury (broken collarbone). Lentz was one of three USC players to start and play in all 18 matches in 2001 for Carolina. Lentz and Leeper will each vie for All-SEC honors as the Gamecock defense looks to offset the losses of Lydia Bienias and Jessica Uecker, the lone two starters from last year’s team not returning.

“Becky did very well last year moving from a midfielder to defender,” said Coach Smith. “She is a very smart player who reads the game well. A big key will be for her to keep the team organized with her ability to communicate. We are looking to combine a younger player in the back with Becky. Jackie Welch and Abby Markham both will get a look. Jackie is very athletic with good speed and is good in the air, while Markham is aggressive and physical.”

At an outside defender’s role, Lentz will return to the right side for USC. At the other outside slot, several USC players will be asked to contribute. Senior Kanika McAlpine earned time in 18 matches last year, with five starts and could step in for Bienias on the outside. McAlpine gained experience over the summer playing in Iceland. Joining McAlpine are freshmen Stacy Zelek and Kimberly Criss. Zelek is back after taking a medical redshirt with a torn ACL.


Junior Elise Matthews returns for Carolina between the posts, fresh off the most successful year in goal by a Carolina goalkeeper. Matthews was second in the SEC with a 0.78 GAA, setting a single-season record at USC. Matthews started 12 of 15 matches she played in, finishing with a 5-6-3 record, including four shutouts and 63 saves. Matthews also gained experience this summer playing in the W-1 League for the Memphis Mercury.

“Elise has had the chance to compete at a high level this summer and that should prepare her well for the college season,” said Coach Smith.”

Senior Carolyn Ortega is also back for Carolina after starting six of seven matches she played in last year. Ortega was 3-1 last year with a 1.40 GAA.

“Carolyn has worked very hard this year and will again challenge for playing time.”