COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s soccer released its 2017 schedule Wednesday, announcing a competitive 18-game slate that includes nine matches at Stone Stadium this season.
The Gamecocks, who open their fall with an exhibition match at College of Charleston on Aug. 10, will face 10 teams that posted double-digit victories in 2016. Seven of Carolina’s opponents qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year, and four of them were ranked in the final NSCAA Top-25 poll of 2016.
South Carolina opens its 2017 campaign with a pair of matches at Stone Stadium, where it boasted a perfect 10-0 mark during the regular season last fall. The Gamecocks kick off the season on Aug. 18 against UCF before returning to action two days later in a contest against Florida Gulf Coast on Aug. 21. Carolina is unbeaten against both squads, who will be making their first trips to Stone Stadium this year.
Following their road opener at Wake Forest on Aug. 24 and a home match against High Point on Aug. 27, the Gamecocks open the month of September at Notre Dame with two contests against 2016 NCAA Tournament participants. Carolina faces the Fighting Irish on Sept. 1 before playing Michigan in a neutral contest in South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 3. This season will mark South Carolina’s first meetings with Notre Dame and the Wolverines.
A road match against in-state rival Clemson on Sept. 8 marks the final notable non-conference game for the Gamecocks, who knocked off the No. 6 Tigers 2-1 last fall at Stone Stadium behind a pair of goals from rising senior striker Savannah McCaskill.
“The upcoming season will be one of our most challenging schedules to date,” South Carolina women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith said. “Our non-conference schedule features very competitive opponents, and we will be tested early ahead of our conference slate.”
Two of Carolina’s first three SEC contests will be at home, as the Gamecocks open conference play in Columbia against Alabama on Sept. 15 before hosting Tennessee on Sept. 24. South Carolina, the 2016 SEC Regular-Season Champions, clinched the league title following its 2-0 road win over the Volunteers last October. Mississippi State (Oct. 5), Vanderbilt (Oct. 15) and Georgia (Oct. 22) round out the list of SEC foes visiting Stone Stadium in 2017.
The Gamecocks will play three SEC road matches in the month of October in a stretch highlighted by contests against Arkansas (Oct. 8) and Florida (Oct. 26). Carolina, which is 12-3-3 all-time against the Razorbacks, handed Arkansas its first league loss of 2016 after notching a 3-1 win in last year’s top-25 battle at Stone Stadium.
This fall’s contest against the Gators will mark the regular season finale for the Gamecocks, who posted a dramatic 1-0 overtime win over Florida last year after midfielder Chelsea Drennan converted a penalty kick in the 103rd minute. Nine of the last 10 games between the Gators and Carolina have been decided by one goal.
“As always, the SEC season is a challenge, and we hope the overall schedule will put us in a strong position for postseason play,” Smith said. “In addition to a strong core group of returning players, we will have a lot of younger players quickly exposed to the demands of competing at a top level.”
The 2017 SEC Tournament, set for Oct. 31-Nov. 6, will again be contested in Orange Beach, Ala., where the Gamecocks will look to reach the semifinals of the league championship for the fifth time since 2009.
Season tickets are on sale now, with soccer fans yet again getting the best deal ever offered for tickets. For $25 for adults and $10 for youth 17 and under, purchasers receive a season ticket to every women and men’s soccer match this season. To take advantage of the offer, call 800-472-3267 or visit GamecocksOnline.com/Tickets.
The Gamecocks enjoyed the finest season in program history last fall after finishing with single-season school records for wins (21), goals (51) and victories over ranked opponents (5). South Carolina became the first team in SEC soccer history to post an unbeaten regular-season mark (17-0-1), and it reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the second time in three years after earning the program’s first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed. The Gamecocks ended the season ranked No. 5 in the final NSCAA Poll after spending a league-best eight weeks inside the top five throughout the fall.