April 29, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The defending SEC champion South Carolina women’s soccer team has announced a 2010 schedule that includes two home tournaments and games against eight teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Gamecocks will host 12 games at Stone Stadium, including five against teams that advanced to the postseason and a Sept. 20 matinee against rival Clemson.
The Gamecocks open the 2010 season on the road with a trip to Boston, Mass., to take on two of the most respected teams in the Northeast region. The season opener is scheduled for Aug. 20th against Boston University with a date against Northeastern slated for Aug. 22nd. The opener will be the second game between the Gamecocks and Terriers, a team that has advanced to the NCAA Tournament each of the past five seasons. Sunday’s match will be Carolina’s first against the two-time defending Colonial Athletic Association champion Huskies.
“We are excited to be heading to New England to play two quality opponents,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said of the opening weekend. “We will have more fans than a typical out of region match. (Associate Head Coach) Jamie (Smith), (assistant coach) Mat Cosgriff and I all competed collegiately and started our coaching careers in New England, so it will be special to return to some familiar sidelines where we once played and coached. We also all have family and many friends in New England, so they are looking forward to having us return to the area. Our loyal parents of alumni players that come from that area are already making plans to be there! It will wonderful for the team to have the support and a great opportunity for many of the players to see Boston for the first time. We also highly respect both opponents and it should be a tremendous test for our young team to start the 2010 season.”
South Carolina then returns home for a six-game homestand that’s highlighted by two tournaments to be held at Stone Stadium. Carolina hosts the Gamecock Courtyard Cup Aug. 27-29 with Louisville, Ohio University and Bucknell traveling to Columbia to compete. The Gamecocks will take on Louisville Friday at 7:30 p.m. for the 2010 home opener before playing Ohio in the Sunday match.
“We are looking forward to bringing in strong out of region opponents,” Smith said. “We were able to face Louisville last season at their tournament, and we know it will be another great match in Columbia this year. It will be the first time we have faced Ohio University. Their head coach, Stacy Strauss, was formerly my assistant at the University of Rhode Island while I was the head coach there. This will be the first time we will be coaching against each other since working together at URI.”
The Carolina Cup will again return to Columbia and pit South Carolina against Clemson Friday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. South Carolina will also compete against Furman Sunday, Sept. 12 at 2:30 p.m. The Gamecocks will look to win the tournament for the fourth consecutive season. The four-team cup is sandwiched between home dates against first time opponents of Arizona State (Sept. 5) and Minnesota (Sept. 16). The Sun Devils advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season while the Gophers narrowly missed out on an at-large bid.
“We are fortunate to be able to host two more top out of region opponents in Arizona State and Minnesota,” Smith said. “We have never faced either team, so it will be a great challenge and I’m glad to be on our home field. We will make our way to return to both schools over the next few years and continue to have a good out of conference schedule.”
The Gamecocks close out the non-conference schedule with their first trip to Spry Stadium, home of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. In a rematch of the NCAA Round of 16 match that was decided in the final second of regulation this past season, the two teams will compete Sunday, Sept. 19 in Winston-Salem at 2 p.m. The Demon Deacons advanced to the Elite Eight last season and have been an NCAA Tournament team every year since 1996.
“Our non-conference season concludes with a challenging match up at Wake Forest,” Smith said. “We look forward to competing against them over the next two seasons in a home and away schedule. This will be great preparation as we enter the SEC season facing such a strong program.”
The SEC slate begins with a road trip to Vanderbilt (Sept. 24) and Kentucky (Sept. 26). Other road contests include Alabama, Arkansas and postseason competitor Auburn. Of the six conference teams that will travel to Columbia, four – Ole Miss, Georgia, LSU and Florida – competed in the NCAA Tournament last year. The regular season finale against Florida is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. and concludes a stretch where four of the final five games will be played at Stone Stadium.
“The SEC schedule will be tough once again,” Smith said. “Coming off the year we had, we will be a target for our SEC opponents. We do look forward to having more home games this season and finishing the year with a home stretch, unlike last season being on the road most of October. After losing so many starters from last year, we will have some learning to do to begin the year. I look forward to challenging our new team and seeing them grow through the fall, hopefully reaching their potential as we finish the SEC at home in October.”
South Carolina went 19-4-2 last season in a year that saw the team win the program’s first SEC Tournament title. The Gamecocks hosted the first three round of the NCAA Tournament and was the only SEC team to advance to the Round of 16. Carolina lost eight letterwinners from last year’s team and will welcome 11 newcomers in 2010.