South Carolina Gamecocks women’s soccer: High expectations going into 2014


While the preparations are being made for the South Carolina Gamecocks football team’s game against the Texas A&M Aggies two weeks from tomorrow, the first athletics event at the school for the 2014-15 school year will be held in Durham, NC.

That’s where the 14th-ranked Gamecocks women’s soccer team will be on Thursday as they start their campaign in an exhibition match at #18 Duke, a national quarterfinalist from last year. And while the ladies enjoyed a successful season last year—17-4-2 (8-2-1 SEC, including an 11-0 mark at home)—the expectation is to make it farther than their second-round exit against Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. The pieces are certainly in place to do just that.

There’s no doubt who the starting goalkeeper will be for the Gamecocks: Sabrina D’Angelo. The senior, arguably one of the top players at her position in the country (if not the best), played every minute in goal last year (0.59 GAA, 14 goals allowed, 12 clean sheets). Practically nothing got behind the first-team All-American last season, and if this season rings the same, then this side will be very, very hard to beat. The big question is how the team will utilize the other keepers on roster to get an initial outlook on who might have an edge in 2015.


The Gamecocks’ defense allowed two goals on just three occasions in 2013; they lost all three games.

Manning a stellar back line will be a few names from last season’s campaign, headlined by senior D/M

Andie Romness,


Christa Neary

, and junior

Caroline Gray

. They’ll need to recoup the loss of

Abby Sams


Christine Watts

(graduated) as well as

Ali Whitney

(transfer), and that means that you’ll see some youngsters in the group (like four-star recruit and top-10 defender

Dominique Babbitt

), so the question is if they’ll be able to gel with the veterans. Get this: the defense allowed two goals on just three occasions in 2013; they lost all three games. (Their fourth loss, to Stanford in the NCAA tournament, was a 1-0 result.)

Not much turnover in this group. The player that made it happen the most offensively last year was Raina Johnson (10 goals, 21 points). The junior is back, and with her at mid is redshirt senior Taylor Leach (three goals), junior Stevi Parker (three goals) and Bay Daniel (two goals), along with Chelsea Drennan (who burst onto the scene as a freshman with 12 assists). Keep an eye on newcomer and local product Savannah McCaskill, one of the top midfielders in the country at Irmo High School.

While teams keyed in on Johnson last year, they also needed to keep an eye out for Danielle Au (seven goals, 18 points). But Au has graduated, opening the door for sophomores Daija Griffin and Sophie Groff and junior Coryn Bajema to grab hold of that position. The trio combined for 26 points on nine goals a year ago. The Gamecocks have added four-star New Jersey high schooler Lauren Janowski to the mix at forward in 2014.

Four named to SEC watch list
The Gamecocks, who were picked to finish 3rd in a talented SEC (#8 Florida and #9 Texas A&M were picked to finish first and second, respectively), had four players named to the conference’s watch list: D’Angelo, Leach, Drennan and McCaskill.