Gamecocks to Begin Regular Season at Stone Stadium This Weekend
#5 Women’s Soccer vs Fordham and College of Charleston
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina begins the 2018 campaign officially on Friday when Fordham comes to Stone Stadium. The game is set for 7:00 p.m. ET and will be aired on SEC Network Plus. The Gamecocks will also host the College of Charleston on Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT – USF
The 2018 season began with a scoreless draw this past Saturday against the University of South Florida at Stone Stadium. The two teams played three 30 minute periods with the Gamecocks testing numerous different lineups during the contest.
Carolina played 26 different players during the match, seeing the return of Simone Wark who is coming off an injury in 2017. The Gamecocks looked to find leadership on the field with captain Grace Fisk absent while playing at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in France. The Gamecocks would play both Mikayla Krzeczowski and Alexis McMullen during the game in goal, each playing 45 minutes with McMullen picking up a game-high three saves.
Thus far in 2018, the Rams have played two exhibition matches both resutling in 1-0 losses. Playing once at home, and once on the road, Fordham fell to Albany on the road and Stony Brook at home. The Friday afternoon meeting will mark the first between the two programs.
In 2017, the Rams finished with a 6-8-5 record and missed the Atlantic 10 conference tournament. The team graduated just three seniors from that squad. Those three players combined for 12 of the 54 points that the Rams finished with last season.
Of their returners, Clara Gastaldi and Crea Baker-Durante are the most notable. Each of them finished with a pair of goals last season and a total of seven points. Overall, the team returns 14 of the 18 goals they scored last season.
Either of the players that return in goal this season for Fordham will have experience under their belt. As a freshman last season, Kelly LaMorte started 15 games and finished with a goals against average of 0.88 while rising junior Colleen Hickey started four games and made eight appearances and made 15 saves.
The Gamecocks sport a mark of 2-0-0 against USF. This will be the first time the teams meet in exhibition action. The last meeting coming in 2014 when the Gamecocks took down the Bulls 3-0 at Stone Stadium.
SCOUTING COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
The Cougars began the 2018 season with an exhibition victory this past Saturday against High Point. The 1-0 result came as a result of a goal in the second minute of action. The College of Charleston will play their regular season opener on Friday against North Florida before heading to Columbia for the Sunday matchup with Carolina.
2017 was an up and down one for the Cougars. They finished with a record of 8-9-1, but ended the season with a four-game losing streak including a 6-0 loss in the CAA Tournament against Northeastern. Prior to their struggles at the end of the season, the Cougars put together winning streaks of three and four throughout the season.
The Cougars lost a total of nine seniors from their 2017 roster, but of those nine seniors it accounted for just one goal and two assists. They do lose Genevieve Henderston, who as a senior in 2017 started all 18 games and made 86 saves.
The Gamecocks do hold a 4-1-2 all-time record against the Cougars. The last meeting in 2017 when the Gamecocks defeated the Cougars in exhibition action 2-0 with goals from Luciana Zullo and Savannah MCCaskill.
In the 2018 United Soccer Coaches preseason poll released last week, the University of South Carolina were voted as the fifth best team in the country, behind Stanford, UCLA, Duke and Penn State. The team was the highest voted SEC school in the poll, ahead of the likes of Florida, Texas A&M and Tennessee who all were in the top-25.
A week later, the Southeastern Conference released the preseason coaches poll, a poll that collects all 14 coaches preseason predictions where they cannot vote for their own team.
The Gamecocks were voted as the fourth best team in the SEC, behind the same teams they were voted ahead of in the United Soccer Coaches poll just a week earlier.
YOUNG AND EAGER
It will be once again a team dominated by underclassmen. After a 2017 campaign that had 13 freshmen on the roster, the 2018 campaign equals that amount for a total of 26 underclassmen. The Gamecocks will have just one senior on the roster, who did not play in 2017, and will complete the roster with seven juniors.
RECORD BOOK WATCH
Junior goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski enters the 2018 season with some records on her radar. She currently holds the lowest goals against average in South Carolina history with a 0.46 average over her first two seasons.
Krzeczowski will have more than a goals against average record to chase. She also is third in South Carolina history with 25 shutouts, just six away from the most which is held by Mollie Patton who played from 2006-10. Krzeczowski is also approaching the top five for saves in a career, she is currently at 112, good enough for seventh all-time. She also has started 44 games in her career, which is the fourth most in program history.
REPPIN’ HER NATION’S COLORS
South Carolina’s Grace Fisk has yet to join the Gamecocks this preseason as she has been preparring and playing in the U20 Women’s World Cup in France. England won their group consisting of the defending U20 World Cup Champions, North Korea, Brazil and Mexico. Fisk helped England allow three goals in three games while scoring 10. They will play their quarterfinal match against the Netherlands on Friday at 10:00 a.m. ET on FS2.
WHAT WAS LOST
It will be a season where the Gameocks will look to replace a lot of talented players. Most notably, Savannah McCaskill, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the NWSL draft, and now plays for Sky Blue FC. The Gamecocks also will replace Lindsey Lane, an All-Southeast Region First Team and All-SEC Second team member. Anna Conklin, who was captain and helped the defense to a program record 16 clean sheets. South Carolina will also have to replace Lauren Jankowski, Alexis Pendergraft, Dominique Babbitt and Meaghan Carrigan.
Carolina has dominated in the non-conference over the past four seasons, winning 13-straight non-conference games at home. Over the course of those 13 contests, the Gamecocks have outscored their opponents 37-6.
Following the opening weekend of the regular season at home, Carolina will play a third straight game at home before playing on the road for the first time in 2018. The Gamecocks will host rival Clemson on Aug. 23 at 7:00 p.m. on the SEC Network then hit the road to take on NC State in Raleigh, N.C. on Aug. 26 at 1:00 p.m.