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Sept. 27, 2002

Columbia – The University of South Carolina women’s soccer team opens up the SEC season on Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium with a 1 p.m. match vs. five-time SEC champion Florida. Carolina is 7-2 on the young season, one victory shy of eight wins, the team’s total in 2001. USC is ranked eighth this week in the NSCAA Southeast Region Poll.

“We’re coming off two good wins at N.C. State and Furman and we have battled hard, competing well and raising our level of play,” said USC head coach Shelley Smith. “Florida is a great team that has played some excellent competition all season. We can’t afford to come out flat. It’s a great opportunity and we want to play the best competition.”

Senior leadership has been part of the reason for the Gamecocks success in non-conference matches. Senior forward Morgan McIntyre has battled strong up top for the Gamecocks and leads the team with seven goals on the season. Returning to her hometown of Greenville, S.C. on Tuesday night, McIntyre scored twice in a 3-1 win at Furman. Senior midfielders Jessica Julin and Melinda Carter have also continued to their stellar play that helped each earn All-SEC honors last year. Julin has two goals and leads the team with five assists, while Carter owns three goals and two assists from her left midfield position. Senior central defender and co-captain Becky Leeper has also been an important reason why the Gamecocks have only allowed six goals on the year.

In addition to several seniors leading by example, the Gamecocks have received a boost from younger players as well. Junior goalkeeper Elise Matthews has started all nine matches between the posts and owns a 0.62 GAA with 30 saves on the season and one shutout. Sophomore Ashley Williams has contributed to the offense with four goals in nine matches. Freshmen Camille Toney and Lindsay Haney also each own two goals in their first season wearing the Garnet and Black.

The Gamecocks have had seven players start and play in all nine matches this season. Julin, Carter, Leeper, Matthews, freshman Stacy Bunchman, junior Alison Jarrow, and senior Kanika McAlpine each have started the entire season for USC. In earning a 7-2 record, the Gamecock have done it on the road and away from Columbia. Six of Carolina’s nine matches have been away from Stone Stadium with USC owning a 4-1 record on the road and one neutral win. South Carolina is one win away from tying the school’s record for wins in a season on the road, five, set in 1996 and 1999. USC’s two losses have come against teams ranked this season in the top 25, Charlotte and Clemson.