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Feb. 5, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer program has announced that seven student-athletes will join the Gamecocks in the 2009 season. The list includes the Georgia high school Player of the Year, a player with national level experience in England, two regional Olympic Development Program members, a Scholar All-American, two NSCAA All-Region selections and an adidas ESP Camp all-star selection.

“Overall, this 2009 incoming class will add some important depth to the program,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “Our team is coming off a great season and is in a good position to take the program to another level. With a tremendous returning group, the loss of only one senior and further developing a large freshmen class through their first spring season, we are all looking forward to coming back stronger than ever. The incoming class has the benefit of learning from and playing with such a strong returning group of players. They will be looking to earn their time on the playing field while pushing the players ahead of them. We should have some tremendous competitiveness among our roster that will make us stronger from top to bottom. With the addition of two goalkeepers, we especially address the depth of that position among others. They are a wonderful group of student-athletes. We are excited to see what the freshmen bring to the field in August and to have them represent our Gamecock Women’s Soccer program on and off the field.”

South Carolina went 11-7-4 last season, earning the program’s third consecutive SEC Tournament bid and second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. Fourteen of Carolina’s 28 players were freshmen in 2008, and the Gamecocks lose only one senior in midfielder Danila Monteiro. The team returns 14 freshmen, five sophomores and six juniors including All-SEC and All-Region selections Kayla Grimsley (Fr./Mid) and Blakely Mattern (Jr./Def).

Name Pos. Hgt. Hometown Last School
Alex Holland GK 5-7 Cary, Ill. Cary-Grove
Darien Vercillo GK 5-6 Yorba Linda, Calif. Mater Dei
Rae Wilson F 5-5 Greenville, S.C. JL Mann
Brittany DeWitt D 5-6 Greensboro, N.C. N.C. School of Science & Math
Samantha Abrahart F/MF 5-10 Duluth, Ga. Greater Atlanta Christian School
Megan Fligg D/F 5-6 Gainesville, Ga. Chestatee
Christine Watts MF 5-6 Duluth, Ga. Peachtree Ridge
GK | 5-7 | Cary, Ill. | Cary-Grove
Holland-Alex-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: 2008 Fox Valley All-Sectional team … Three-time Fox Valley All-Conference team … 2008 Illinois HSSCA All-Sectional team … Two-time Northwest Hearld All-Area team … Member of Illinois ODP team (2005) … Four year starter at goalkeeper … 2008 Pioneer Press Great Northwest team … Played for Eclipse Select Soccer Club … Club team twice ranked No. 1 in the nation by Soccer America (2007-08) … State Cup finalist (2005) … WAGS Champion (2007).

PERSONAL: Full name is Alexandra Joan Holland … Majoring in mathematics … Chose USC over College of Charleston, Arkansas State and Francis Marion … Born April 21, 1991 … Has one sister, Erin … Parents are John and Renee Holland.

Why USC?: I chose USC because of many different reasons. I love the campus, coaches and team. I feel USC is a great fit for me. Also, I am from Chicago and I wanted to go to school in the south for warmer weather.

Shelley Smith Quoted: A very skilled and aggressive goalkeeper with excellent athleticism. Alex has competed at this country’s top level of club soccer, already bringing strong experience to the GK position as a freshman. She has good shot stopping ability and is quick off her line. She has the tools and desire to become a top goalkeeper in the conference working alongside Coach Mat Cosgriff.

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GK | 5-6 | Yorba Linda, Calif. | Mater Dei
Vercillo-Darien-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: Participated in Adidas ESP Camp (June 2007) … Named to Adidas ESP camp All-Star team … 2008 Region IV ODP Invitational Camp participant … Member of California ODP team … Member of ODP Region IV team … National Pool Player (2006) … Two-time All Los Angeles Southern Section (All-CIF) selection (2007-08) … Named All-League in 2007 … Played for Slammers FC club team in Newport Beach, Calif. … Captain of nationally ranked high school team and club team that was ranked No. 3 in the nation … Region IV Far West Regional Champions … Three-time Cal South State Champion (2006-08) … Club team won six consecutive Surf Cups … Nike Cup and Youth National Gothia Cup champion with Slammers FC … Also played varsity basketball at Mater Dei.

PERSONAL: Full name is Darien Alyxandra Vercillo … Majoring in sports management … Chose USC over Tennessee, Southern California and Dartmouth … Born June 8, 1991 … Has two brothers … Parents are Tony and Kim Vercillo.

Why USC?: It’s a home away from home. The Southeast mentality is a different but good change of pace. It is the right fit for my personality, and I couldn’t imagine anywhere better.

Shelley Smith Quoted: Darien is another player who will add to the depth of the goalkeeping position. Competing for one of the top clubs in the country and like Alex, Darien will bring good experience in as a first year player. Darien is aggressive in the air, vocal and confident which are all crucial attributes for goalkeepers to be successful at this level. Both she and Holland will compete for time in their first year behind returning starter Mollie Patton and sophomore Roya Mojarab.

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F | 5-5 | Greenville, S.C. | JL Mann
Wilson-Rae-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: Two-time NSCAA/adidas All-Region team (2007-08) … Two-time All-State selection (2006, 2008) … 2008 NSCAA Scholar All-American … Two-time Peach Blossom II-AAA All-State selection (2006, 2008) … Three-time Peach Blossom All-Region selection (2006-08) … Four-year member of South Carolina ODP team (2005-08) … Three-time JL Mann Outstanding Offensive Player (2006-08) … Played for six-time state champion CESA club team … Region III Champion (2006) … Member of National Honor Society … Ranked 7th in high school class.

PERSONAL: Full name is Virginia Rae Wilson … Majoring in business … Chose USC over Furman … Born February 17, 1991 … Has an older brother, Luke … Parents are Jimmy and Kathy Wilson.

Why USC?: I have always wanted to go to a SEC school. I loved the girls on the team and the campus. When I came on my visit I knew that South Carolina was where I wanted to go.

Shelley Smith Quoted: One of the top three players to come out of the state of South Carolina in 2009, we are excited to keep South Carolina’s High School All- American player at home and competing for the Gamecocks. Rae strikes the ball very well. Her shooting ability combined with her good pace and determination to take on opponents should make her an offensive threat as she develops and competes for time up top.

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D | 5-6 | Greensboro, N.C. | North Carolina School of Science & Math
DeWitt-Brittany-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: Two-time All-State selection (2007-08) … Three-time All-Conference and All-Region (2006-08) … Two-time participant at ODP Region Camp … Played for GYSA Greensboro Twisters club team … Spent five years as captain of club team that won six state championships (2001-05; 2007-08) … State semifinalist in 2006 … Two-time Region III runner-up (2006-07) … Scholar athlete that was accepted to NC School of Science and Match after beginning career at Ragsdale High School.

PERSONAL: Full name is Brittany London DeWitt … Majoring in nursing … Chose USC over Western Carolina, Florida State, UNC Greensboro and Charlotte … Born January 22, 1991 … Has two brothers and one sister … Sister, Brooke, played soccer at Greensboro College … Mother is Candace DeWitt.

Why USC?: I really loved the campus atmosphere. It is beautiful here, and I knew it was for me when I came to visit. I also really loved the team chemistry and wanted to be a part of that.

Shelley Smith Quoted: Brittany is an excellent student who has earned prestigious admission into the honors college here at South Carolina. Like her success off the field, Brittany shows that same kind of the commitment and desire to be her best on the soccer field. She is very coachable and composed in her play. She will bring depth to the defensive back four in her first year with an ability to play both outside and in the center of the back.

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F/MF | 5-10 | Duluth, Ga. | Greater Atlanta Christian School
Abrahart-Samantha-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: Named to Gwinnett Goal Club’s All-County team of the year (2007-08) … Four year member of Georgia ODP team (2004-08) … Four-year ODP Region Camp participant (2004-08) … Gwinnett Goal Club Offensive Player of the Year (2008) … State finalist for Wendy’s High School Heisman … Invited to England to train and play with West Ham United Premiership Ladies Team … Played for NASA (2004-08) and Norcross Fury (2008-09) club teams … Region III Premier League Top 5 point leader in 2006, finishing with a No. 2 ranking … 2008 State Cup Champion … 2007 Disney Showcase Champion … Two-time Regionals semifinalist (2007-08) … Region III Premier League finalist (2007).

PERSONAL: Full name is Samantha Leanne Abrahart … Majoring in elementary education … Chose USC over Samford, Princeton, Florida State, Miami and Georgia … Born November 19, 1990 … Has two brothers and one sister … Parents are James and Jacqui Abrahart.

Why USC?: I loved everything about the school – the campus, the team, the coaches, and most of all, the atmosphere. Ultimately, it was the perfect fit for me. I am so excited about getting to play at the next level.

Shelley Smith Quoted: Sam has some uniqueness to her physically and tactically that stood out in the recruiting process and in her evaluations. An obvious difference from many on our current roster is her size. This coupled with her skill level, along with her vision and awareness on the field should make her a player to watch among our central midfield positions. Sam benefits from having experience playing at the national level in England. With her work ethic alongside her knowledge and love for the game, we are looking forward to seeing Sam grow as a player in our program.

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D/F | 5-6 | Gainesville, Ga. | Chestatee
Fligg-Megan-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: 2008 NSCAA/adidas Scholar All-Region … Georgia high school Player of the Year (2008) … Three-time First Team All-Area selection (2006-08) … Two-time team MVP (2007-08) … Set school record for most goals scored in one season … Finished second in Region 7AAA for goals scored … Four year starter and two-time Best Offense Award winner … … Super Y National ODP camp (2004-06) … Played for Atlanta Fire United club team (2002-09) … Super Y North American Finals (2006) … Semifinalist at Disney Qualifier (2008) and finalist at Disney Showcase (2009) … Club team was state cup finalist in 2006 … Three-time Super Y South Atlantic Champions (2004-06) … Played in Region 3 Premier League (2005-08) … Played in State Cup Final Four for eight consecutive years (2002-09).

PERSONAL: Full name is Megan Elizabeth Fligg … Majoring in early childhood education … Chose USC over Kentucky, Clemson, Francis Marion and High Point … Born October 2, 1990 … Has one brother, Ryan … Father (Matt Fligg) worked as an undergraduate assistant coach at USC while his father, Jack Fligg, served as an assistant coach from 1975-82, serving as offensive coordinator during George Rogers’ Heisman season … Uncle (Steven Carl Raible) played football at Georgia Tech and six years for the expansion team Seattle Seahawks (1976-81) … Mother (Mary) was a gymnast at Western Kentucky … Parents are Matt and Mary Fligg.

Why USC?: When I first visited South Carolina, I just got this awesome feeling that this is where I belong. The coaches and players are very welcoming, and the whole USC atmosphere is definitely what I want to be a part of.

Shelley Smith Quoted: A solid defender, Megan can play centrally or on the outside. We are looking for her to compete and add depth among the back four. Her composure and passing ability is excellent. As areas of her game develop, she has great potential to become a dominating defender among the SEC.

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MF | 5-6 | Duluth, Ga. | Peachtree Ridge
Watts-Christine-09.jpgPRE-COLLEGE: Four-time All-Region selection (2006-09) … Two-time All-County (2007, 2009) … Two-time Georgia “Super Six” selection (2007, 2009) … 2009 Gwinnett County “Super Six” featured player … Georgia high school 5A soccer points leader in 2007 … Two-time First Team All-Star (2006, 2008) … Leading goal scorer for Peachtree Ridge High School … Four-time high school scholar athlete (2006-09) … Seven-year member of Georgia ODP team (2001-07) … Region III Camp (2004-07) … Two-time participant at Super Y ODP National Camp (2005-06) … Played for Atlanta Fire club team … Club team captain since U-12 … Club team was state cup finalist in 2006 … Three-time Super Y South Atlantic Champions (2004-06) … Played in State Cup Final Four for eight consecutive years (2002-09).

PERSONAL: Full name is Christine Marie Watts … Undecided major … Chose USC over Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Clemson and Ole Miss … Born September 6, 1990 … Has three sisters and one brother … Father played football at Tennessee from 1977-79 … Mother was a gymnast at Georgia … sister (Amanda) played soccer at Tennessee and Carson-Newman … Parents are John and Barbara Watts.

Why USC?: USC is only 3 hours away from home. I also wanted to go to a D1 school that had a big football team. The soccer coaching staff is amazing, and I really like the soccer girls. As soon as I stepped foot on USC’s campus, I knew I was supposed to spend the next four years of my life there. The campus is gorgeous and very welcoming.

Shelley Smith Quoted: Christine is one of the best players to come out of the Atlanta area in 2009. She has tremendous athleticism and versatility to play several places on the field. This combination should allow her to successfully compete for our program in her first year. Christine has so much potential, and we are excited to work with her and see her grow into a great college player!

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