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Oct. 12, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5-1, 2-0-1 C-USA) are back at home this weekend for a pair of matches against Conference USA competition. On Friday, Oct. 14, Carolina will host the Kentucky Wildcats in a 7 p.m. affair. USC plays host to Marshall on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m. Both matches will be played at Stone Stadium on the USC campus. The Gamecocks are playing at home for the first time since Sept. 21.

Friday’s match is “Mad Hatter Night.” Fans can wear a Carolina hat to the match and get in for $1. Sunday is Family Fun Day and kids are admitted free with a paying adult.

For both matches, fans can access live stats via Gametracker on South Carolina’s official athletics web site, A live audio broadcast is also available on the site. Richard Rowell will call the action.

The Gamecocks are currently tied for second in the Conference USA standings and bring a six-match unbeaten streak into the weekend. This past weekend, USC played to a 2-2 tie in double overtime at Memphis and defeated UAB, 2-1, in Birmingham. South Carolina will play its first Conference USA home match on Friday against Kentucky. In fact, the Gamecocks are the only C-USA team to play its first three matches on the road.

Junior forward Mike Sambursky currently leads Carolina in scoring with 11 points on three goals and five assists. Senior Josh Alcala is second with 10 points on two goals and a team-high six assists. Alcala paces the Gamecocks in Conference USA matches with six points on a goal and four assists.

Junior forward Ayo Akinsete is South Carolina’s third-leading scorer with nine points on a team-best four goals and one assist. Akinsete has scored three game-winning goals, which is tied for the most of any league player this season.

Freshman goalkeeper Mike Gustavson owns a 1.64 goals-against average and has made 47 saves in 1040:54 of action this season. Last weekend, the Gamecock defense held Conference USA’s top two scorer teams to a total of three goals. Junior defender Ryan Leeton scored his first career goal at Memphis on Oct. 7 and was selected the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week.

Scouting Kentucky
The Wildcats come into the weekend with a 4-4-4 overall record and a 1-2-1 mark in Conference USA. UK is currently tied for fifth in the conference standings after defeating Tulsa, 2-1, Oct. 7 and falling to SMU, 2-1, on Oct. 9 in Lexington.

Kentucky will have to play without its leading scorer in forward Riley O’Neill on Friday night. O’Neill, who has scored 13 points on four goals and five assists, was sent off with a red card during the Wildcats’ loss to SMU on Sunday. Midfielder Nathan Marks will also serve a suspension against the Gamecocks after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season against SMU.

Michael D’Agostino is second on the team in scoring with six points on a goal and four assists.

In Wildcat goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, Carolina will face a tough test. Gruenebaum sports a 1.00 goals-against average (GAA), the best among Conference USA goalies. The C-USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year has 54 saves and four shutouts in 2005.

Ian Collins is in his 12th season as Kentucky’s head coach.

South Carolina holds a 2-0-0 record all-time against the Wildcats. Friday’s match will mark the first meeting between the two schools since 1992, a 2-0 Carolina win in Lexington on Oct. 11. USC also won the inaugural match in the series on Nov. 11, 1991, 6-0.

Scouting Marshall
The Thundering Herd comes into the weekend with a 3-7-1 record overall and a 1-2-1 mark in Conference USA games. Marshall is fresh off its first C-USA victory, a 2-1 triumph over then No. 25 Tulsa at home.

Seniors Kirk Gibson (5 goals, 1 assist) and Stanton Smith (4 goals, 3 assists) lead Marshall in scoring with 11 points apiece. Goalkeeper Greg Terhune has logged 914:11 of playing time and owns a 2.95 goals-against average.

Bob Gray is in his 11th season as Marshall’s head coach and his 29th season overall.

The Gamecocks and Thundering Herd will play for the first time ever on Sunday.