GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina women’s soccer team kicks off the 2011 season and opens the ECU Soccer Stadium Friday night when it welcomes in nationally-ranked SouthCarolina for a 7 p.m. (ET) match.
A year ago, the Pirates posted a 9-9-1 record, including a 4-6-1 mark in Conference USA, finishing in a tie for eighth place. ECU returns eight of its 10 goal scorers from last season, including senior captains Jessica Abshire, Kimmy Cummings and Amanda Malkiewicz along with junior defender Hali Oughton and sophomore goalkeeper Christiane Cordero, all of whom started all 19 matches in 2010.
Abshire, a Wake Forest, N.C. native, ranked second on the team in points (11) and assists (5) behind Malkiewicz and netted her first career game-winning strike at William & Mary. She scored a career-best three goals, registered five assists (three in league play) andplayed every minute in 14 of 19 games. Since stepping on campus Abshire hasstarted 60-straight matches, scored seven goals, dished out 11 assists for 25 points.
Cummings started all 19 games at midfield posting career-highs in goals (3), assists (4), points (10) and shots (32). The Mechanicsville, Va. native netted her first goal of the season against No. 10 Wake Forest and added a pair of scores against league members Tulsa and Rice. During her three-year career, she has played in 59 matches,scored six goals, dished out seven assists and recorded 19 points.
Malkiewicz, who was named preseason All C-USA, became the fifth player in school history to lead the squad in goals (7), assists (6) and points (20) in the same season.
The Forked River, N.J. native played nearly 1,200 minutes and pushed her consecutive starting streak to 60 matches with her start at Marshall in the season finale. She closed out the year ranked among the league leaders (all games) in points and points per game (t-7th), goals and goals per game (ninth) and assists and assists per game (t-10th).
In league play, she netted four goals (one game-winning vs. Rice), registered three assists and tallied 11 points and closed out the campaign ranked fourth all-time on ECU's career charts in assists (16) and points (50), while ranking sixth in goals (17).
Oughton has started 36 of 38 career games for ECU netting a pair of goals on 18 shots, while dishing out four assists – including a career-best three last season. The Redondo Beach, Calif. native logged over1,600 minutes on the pitch with a season-best 110 at UAB. Her lone goal (second career) was against Colorado College on a header off a corner kick.
Cordero returns in the goal for the Pirates after posting a 9-9-1 record with a pair of shutouts and 95 saves. The Valencia, Calif. native logged 1,737 minutes in goal and recorded five or more saves 11 times, including a career-best 11 against instate rival N.C. State in a 1-0 victory. On the year she sported a 1.45 goals against average and saved 77 percent of the shots she faced (256).
The Gamecocks return six starters from last season's SEC regular season and tournament runner-up team that went 15-6-4 with a berth in the NCAA Second Round. Senior forward Kayla Grimsley is an All-American candidate and was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List after her record breaking junior campaign that saw her capture the school's single-season points record (34 points).
All-SEC players Ellen Fahey and Danielle Aureturn in addition to starters DaniHenry, Liz Sinclair and Maria Petroni. Fahey anchors a backline that ended the SEC regular season first in every major defensive category, and will look to join the recent club of departed players Blakely Mattern and Brittiny Rhoades as All-American players. Au, a SEC All-Freshman Team selection, will compliment Grimsley in the attack with an enhanced attacking role.
Henry and Sinclair contributed to South Carolina's 17th-ranked defense last season, and Petroni started 24 of Carolina's 25 games last season as a winger.
The team will break in a new goalkeeper in 2011 with the graduation of Mollie Patton, who left Columbia as one of the top goalkeepers in NCAA history. A quartet of athletes are poised to play between the pipes with senior Roya Mojarab wielding the most experience and redshirt sophomores Alex Holland and Darien Vercillo making waves during the preseason. True freshman Sabrina D'Angelo brings Canadian national team experience to the position as a starter for the U17 team and will push the upperclassmen for the starting position after being named an SEC Preseason Watch List selection.
Prior to the start of the match Friday, Dr. Steve Ballard, SGA President Josh Martinovich, ECU Provost Marilyn Sheerer and Board of Trustees member Bob Lucas will be on hand for a special pregame presentation.