Tuesday the SEC released their preseason coaches poll for women's soccer and the Gamecocks were picked to finish third. Florida was tabbed as the SEC winner.
USC, the defending conference champions, became the only team to go undefeated in conference play with an 11-0 record a season ago. They were also tabbed fourth in the country in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll earlier this month.
Head coach Shelley Smith enters her 16th season at USC and will have senior star Savannah McCaskill to lead a young team that has 13 freshmen. They may look different but the potential for wins is the same.
"I think this year will be a little different where maybe the defense isn't quite as experienced by our attack is that much more dynamic," Smith said.
The head coach paints the picture that USC will be a versatile team in 2017.
"We have different ways to break teams down and obviously Savannah being the key in the attack but the players that have returned, the players that we have added, will definitely give us some umph in the attack. I think we'll have a fast paced brand of attacking soccer that's still organized defensively. We just have to learn some things along the way."
McCaskill was the SEC Offensive Player Of The Year in 2016 and led the Gamecocks to a program record 21 victories. After an Elite 8 finish last season she wants this team to go even further.
"I want to go out with a bang. I want to have a great season like we had last year again and then hopefully win the SEC championship and make it to the Final Four. It's just kind of always leaving the program better than where you found it and that's what I want to end my career on."
The Gamecocks open the year at home against Central Florida this Friday night at 7 pm in Stone Stadium.