Aug. 18, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 24 South Carolina women’s soccer opens the 2016 season at the Nike Sooner Classic, where it will face host Oklahoma on Fri., Aug. 19, at 8 p.m. ET before playing a neutral contest against Tulsa on Sun., Aug. 21, at 1 p.m. ET. Friday’s contest can be seen on Fox College Sports Central and on FOX Sports Go.
From The Coach
“I’ve been really happy with this group all preseason. They’ve come in prepared and ready to go from the start. We’re further along than we’ve ever been as a team. Friday is a big test for us. We have to go on the road all season, and I don’t mind doing it the first weekend. I know they’re excited to play, and we have a strong returning group that knows how to play on the road.” ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” Women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith
The Sooners, who were picked to finish third in the Big 12 this fall, return 19 letterwinners from last year’s squad that posted a 10-7-3 mark. Oklahoma has notched double-digit wins in each of the last two seasons under fifth-year head coach Matt Potter, who guided the Sooners to the program’s third NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014. South Carolina defeated Oklahoma in overtime, 2-1, at Stone Stadium last season in the first meeting between the two. Junior midfielder Lindsey Lane delivered the game-winner, tallying a dramatic goal in the 106th minute.
The Golden Hurricane notched 13 wins in 2015, their most in a season since 2012. Tulsa returns eight starters from a year ago, including leading goalscorer Rachel Thun. Thun totaled 22 points on seven goals and eight assists as a sophomore last season, while fellow returnee Christina Holmes boasted 12 points on six goals. The Golden Hurricane, who defeated the Gamecocks, 2-0, in the teams’ only meeting in 1997, have finished with a winning record in seven of eight years under coach Kyle Cussen.
South Carolina In Season Openers
South Carolina enters 2016 with an all-time record of 13-5-3 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 8-0 record, outscoring opponents 25-3. When heading on the road to open the season, South Carolina carries a 5-4-3 mark. The Gamecocks, who are 10-2-3 in season openers under Shelley Smith, have not opened the season with a loss since 2006.
In The Record Book
Two Gamecocks, Chelsea Drennan and Savannah McCaskill, enter the fall near the top of the list of multiple statistical categories. Drennan’s 29 assists are four short of the program record, and she is three game-winning assists away from matching another school record. McCaskill needs just two more assists to move into the top five, and the forward’s first goal of the season will give her 16 for her career and move her into the top 10 in school history.
The SEC coaches selected South Carolina to finish fourth in the league with Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn claiming the top three spots. The Gamecocks defeated the Aggies and Tigers at home last season, and South Carolina and Florida have split their last six matches, with five of the contests decided by one goal. Five Gamecocks were named to the SEC Preseason Watch List ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” seniors Kaleigh Kurtz, Paige Bendell, Chelsea Drennan and Sophie Groff along with junior Savannah McCaskill. This fall marks the third-straight year that Drennan and McCaskill landed on the list.
The Gamecocks’ home opener is set for Thu., Aug. 25, against NC State. The match, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, can be seen on SEC Network+, available online through WatchESPN. South Carolina moved past the Wolfpack, 3-0, in an exhibition last fall.