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Gamecocks Ready for Spring Home Opener
Women's Soccer  . 

Gamecocks Ready for Spring Home Opener

#12 Women’s Soccer vs. College of Charleston

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 12th-ranked University of South Carolina women’s soccer team (7-3-0, 6-2-0 SEC) takes on the College of Charleston this Sunday in the team’s spring home opener. The match takes place on March 7, at 2 p.m., with a broadcast available to watch on SEC Network +. 

South Carolina women’s soccer (7-3-0, 6-2-0 SEC) concluded the fall portion of its 2020-21 season in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament with a loss to No. 6 Arkansas, 2-1. Despite being the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, the Gamecocks were within one goal of two different opportunities to raise another SEC title. The team’s loss to Tennessee in the conference finale cost a share of the regular season title and the 2-1 loss to Arkansas cost the team a chance at repeating as tournament champions in Orange Beach.
Carolina’s offense found its footing in the fall after an opening loss to Georgia on the road by scoring multiple goals in six of its remaining nine matches including four against Mizzou (Sept. 27), Florida (Oct. 25) and three against Mizzou (Nov. 17).
Defensively Carolina adjusted to a new goalkeeper for the first time since 2015. Freshman Taylor Fox started the first two matches of the season before sophomore Heather Hinz took over for the remainder of the fall. Hinz finished with two shutouts, including a four-save performance against Mississippi State that earned her an SEC Defensive POW honor.
Despite the Gamecocks turning over a lot of talent from their 2019 SEC title, the Gamecocks still managed to pick up two huge wins in the fall. Including the second-highest ranked win in program history over No. 3 Arkansas on the road, shutting out the eventual SEC regular season champions 1-0 in Fayetteville. The Gamecocks also defeated eventual SEC Tournament champs Vanderbilt on the road in a 2-1 double overtime thriller.
Redshirt sophomore Samantha Chang made her Senior National Team debut with Canada at the 2021 She Believes Cup on Feb. 21, against Argentina. After earning the roster spot in camp the Mississauga, Ontario, native helped the Canadians win their match over Argentina. Chang entered the match in the second half with the score locked at 0-0 and helped keep Argentina out of goal and eventually Canada found the back of the net in extra time.
After not competing during the fall portion of the 2020-21 season the College of Charleston has started their spring slate 0-4-0 with three of their matches against Power 5 opponents. Most recently the Cougars faced Coastal Carolina on March 4, and fell by a score of 1-0 at home. The Cougars have scored three goals in their four matches, with two of those goals coming from junior Kacey Smekrud against Florida and Clemson. Meredith Holton has started all four matches in goal for the Cougars with Lindsay Stravolo coming off the bench in two matches. In total the College of Charleston return 22 student-athletes with the addition of 10 newcomers from their 2019 team that finished 8-10-0 (2-7-0 CAA).
With conference play concluding in the fall, the Southeastern Conference announced the 2020 All-SEC teams along with the conference awards with four Gamecocks being named. Senior Anna Patten and junior Jyllissa Harris were both named to the All-SEC First Team for the first time in their careers while senior Lauren Chang was named to the Second Team for the third time in her career.
Catherine Barry was named to the All-Freshman team after an impressive start to her rookie campaign. Chang also was named the Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year, marking just the second time a Gamecock has earned the honor in program history – the last being Blakely Mattern in 2009. The Gamecocks have now had at least four named on All-SEC teams for five straight seasons.
Shortly after graduating from the University of South Carolina, senior defender Anna Patten struck a professional deal with Arsenal of the Women’s Super League in England. Patten, who started 32 matches for Carolina, signed the deal with the Gunners, bringing her back to the club she spent most of her youth career with. Patten joins former Gamecock Grace Fisk (West Ham United) in the ranks of English professionals. Patten left Carolina with one SEC Championship and multiple All-SEC honors, including a First Team nod in the fall of 2020. Patten immediately made an impact, making multiple starts for Arsenal since joining the program.
On top of Patten leaving the Gamecocks for the professional ranks the Gamecocks will look different for multiple other reasons. Defenders Sarah Eskew and Caitlyn Leffler both will not be available in the spring due to injury while four additional Gamecocks have moved on from collegiate soccer to pursue internships, graduate or other professional development opportunities. In total Carolina begins the spring season with 20 healthy student-athletes.
The Gamecocks have had an influx of young talent this season with eight of the 18 goals scored this season coming from true freshmen. Three Carolina freshmen scored multiple goals in the fall with Catherine Barry leading the way with four while Rylee Forster, Ranya Senhaji and Corinna Zullo all scored two. Of the Gamecocks 54 points in the fall, 46.3 percent of that have come from freshmen, the second highest percent in the SEC behind just Texas A&M.
The 2020-21 season marks the 25th season of South Carolina women’s soccer. With 20 of those seasons coming under the leadership of Shelley Smith. The program has won 316 matches in history, winning five SEC Championships along the way. The Gamecocks have been an academic leader throughout its history as well, being named a United Soccer Coaches All-Academic team 17 times since 2002.
Throughout the spring the Gamecocks will continue to honor iconic players, moments and more.
The first United Soccer Coaches rankings of the spring portion of the 2020-21 season dropped on March 2 with South Carolina sitting at No. 12 in the country. South Carolina ended the fall season at No. 11, in then the smaller top 15 poll. Carolina entered the top 15 on Oct. 13 and haven’t looked back. Carolina reached as high as No. 9.
Three other SEC teams are inside the top 15 with Vanderbilt sitting at No. 6 followed by Texas A&M at No. 11 and then Arkansas at No. 15.
As of July 30, 2020, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rules to allow student-athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues. Student-athletes of the South Carolina women’s soccer program chose to wear patches that read “Matter is the Minimum” on their right sleeve.
The Gamecocks chose to wear these patches because they want to use their platform as student-athletes to take a stand against systemic racism and social injustice. The team does not tolerate any form of racism and injustice and wants to do its part to make a change. Although these patches are small, they stand for a movement that is bigger than any game.
South Carolina will host three more home matches after the College of Charleston match with the next matchup with Coastal Carolina on March 21, at 2 p.m. All home matches this spring season will be streamed on SEC Network + via a one-camera stream.
– The Gamecocks hold an all-time record of 5-1-2 against the College of Charleston, with Carolina winning each of the past three meetings with the Cougars by a combined score of 7-1
– Sunday’s matchup is just the second between the two programs since 2009 with the last meeting coming in 2018 when Carolina won 2-0
– Carolina and Charlotte have gone to overtime twice in their series history with the last overtime meeting coming in 2002
– Since 2014 the Gamecocks have won every match against non-conference opponents at home during the regular season, a streak that has reached 22 matches in that span with the last loss coming on Sept. 5, 2014