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Oct. 2, 2003

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina opens the SEC season on Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium vs. the Auburn Tigers. Carolina is 7-3-1 on the season and ranked ninth in the NSCAA Southeast Region Rankings. Auburn, ranked as high as 14th in the nation, enters with a 7-1-1 record on the season and as the defending SEC champion.

The Gamecocks and Tigers battled to a 1-1 tie last season at Auburn. The Tigers broke open the scoring at 26:35 as AU midfielder Jenny Zarzour won a through ball vs. keeper Elise Matthews to give Auburn a 1-0 lead. Sara Power and Jessie Allan each assisted on the Tiger goal. Carolina almost broke through before the end of the first period with a goal as Melinda Carter’s direct kick curled past the Tiger wall before Auburn goalkeeper Megan Rivera made the save.

Carolina knotted the match at one midway in the second period of play. Melissa Hutson drove a shot from 20 yards out over the head of Rivera to even the match at 1-1 in the 72nd minute. Hutson’s’ goal was her second of the season. The series between South Carolina and Auburn is tied 2-2-2 with the visiting team having won all four games. Carolina lost 3-2 in the last match played between both teams in Columbia in the 2000 season.

Carolina enters this weekend with a five-game winning streak, one short of the school record six set in the 1999 and 2002 seasons. In the five-game stretch Carolina has outscored its opponents 11-2 and have compiled three shutouts. Carolina also owns a six-game unbeaten streak that is one short of a school record set in the 2001 season.

With three shutouts on the year, senior goalkeeper Elise Matthews is one and a half shutouts shy of the school record 12.5 set by Carrie Warner. Since the 2001 season, Matthews has compiled 11 shutouts, including four apiece in the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Matthews owns school records in goals against average, saves, games started and minutes played.

The Carolina offense has put together 11 goals in the past five games with freshmen Shelly Hoddeson and M.A. Foster leading the way. Hoddeson, a freshman from Alpharetta, Ga., owns a team-high four goals on the year and one assist for nine points on the year. Foster has scored three goals and has tallied three assists for nine points on the season. 11 different Gamecocks have scored at least one goal this year (Hoddeson, Foster, Erica Bowie, Sarah Lentz, Amanda Thurber, Melissa Hutson, Erin Geldhof, Jackie Welch, Camille Toney, Ashley Gosnell, Stacey Zelek).

Junior defender Sarah Lentz (Florence, S.C.) was named to the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week following her peformance last week as Carolina extended its winning streak to five games with wins over Wofford, Georgia Southern and Liberty. Lentz, who has started all 11 matches for Carolina this year, was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the UGA/Nike Tournament. Lentz scored the game-winning goal in Carolina’s 3-1 win vs. Georgia Southern and helped lead a defense that allowed just one goal in three games and compiled two shutouts.

Three South Carolina players were named to the All-Tournament Team at the UGA/Nike Tournament following the Gamecocks’ 2-0 performance over the weekend. Junior defender Sarah Lentz, sophomore midfielder Amanda Thurber, and freshman midfielder Shelly Hoddeson each earned honors after a successful tournament for USC. Lentz scored a game-winning goal, her first goal of the season, Thurber was a key component of the offense and Hoddeson scored her team-leading fourth goal of the year as Carolina defeated Georgia Southern and Liberty.

Carolina has found a great deal of success in Sunday afternoon matches dating back to the 2002 season. The Gamecocks are 8-1-2 including a 4-0-1 record at Stone Stadium.

USC is 3-0-1 this season in Sunday matinees. Carolina defeated Dartmouth 3-1 on September 7, tied at Houston 1-1 on September 14, earned a 1-0 victory vs. N.C. State on September 21 and won 1-0 vs. Liberty on September 28 at the UGA/Nike Tournament. South Carolina hosts Alabama on Sunday this weekend at 1 p.m. at Stone Stadium.