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Women's Soccer  . 

Barry and O’Rourke Provide One-Two Punch for Women’s Soccer

by Brad Muller

South Carolina women’s soccer has earned a reputation as one of the top defensive programs in the country year after to year, and that has helped the program to tremendous success, but the Gamecocks have a formidable one-two punch on offense this season that could propel the team even further. Coach Shelley Smith’s team won the SEC Tournament and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year, and this season they return two of their top scorers with senior Catherine Barry and sophomore Shae O’Rourke. The two forwards weren’t always on the pitch at the same time last year, but that could change this year.

“I see that happening as much as possible,” Smith said. “They are our most dangerous players, and we want them to be out there together. We’ve worked on things to help them work together, be more creative, and less predictable. We have to be dynamic in what we’re doing. The more they play together, they have that capability. They’ve been working off of each other very well, and we’re going to continue to build that.”

“I’m really excited to add different layers, play different formations, and combining to work off of each other to take some of the pressure off both of us,” said Barry, who earned First Team All-SEC honors last year after leading South Carolina with 10 goals and seven assists. “We draw so much attention when we’re playing together. It’s hard to defend.”

“Learning about the college game was important for year one, but now I’m ready for year two,” said O’Rourke, who scored six goals and notched three assists while earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors coming off the bench most of last year. “We want to do what we did last year and go farther. I want to do more!”

O'Rourke 2022
“If we can have two threats up top, we can be unstoppable. ”
Shae O'Rourke  . 

While both enjoy putting up numbers, Barry and O’Rourke are more excited about what they can do to help the team go further, even if it means sharing the spotlight.

“I love playing with Shae,” Barry said. “She’s a great player. She brings a little something different, another energy. Something we’ve always talked about in the program since I’ve been here is trying to develop ourselves as an offensive threat. Our program’s pillar and our standard has always been our lockdown defense, so I think it’s something cool that Shae and I get the chance to add to such a special program.”

“I love playing with her,” O’Rourke said. “With give and goes, we’re a big threat. When we’re a threat together, we can win games. If we can have two threats up top, we can be unstoppable. We’re completely different players, but we play the same position. Learning what she can do in that position is incredible, so I can learn those things. We learn off of each other. Playing with her has just increased my game.”

While the goal scorers grab the headlines, and there are several other offensive weapons in the lineup with newcomers and returners, the Gamecocks know it will take all eleven on the pitch to create success.

“It’s a back to front effort, especially with the way our team plays,” Barry said. “We’re only as good offensively as we are when we build up through the back and the middle third. Some of those pieces really started to come together at the end of last year.”

Both had outstanding seasons last year while helping the team succeed, but they still want more.

“I want to score more goals, and I want our team to win more games,” O’Rourke said. “Playing together, scoring goals, winning championships, and making it to the tournament; I want to make an impact for everyone, not just offensively.”

“I always have high expectations for myself,” Barry said. “Even though last year was a great season for the team; for myself, I’m always looking to do better. I definitely want to step it up a notch as a leader and a player on the field to be better for my teammates and help us reach higher goals this year.”