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Sept. 11, 2007

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The No. 13 South Carolina women’s soccer team hosts Winthrop Wednesday night in the first match between the two South Carolina teams. The match is set for 7 p.m., and all children under 18 get in free with a paying adult.

On playing Winthrop at home
“This is a game where we come in ranked and the pressure is on us to win the game. I think that the players know to come out and bring their best on the field, especially being at home. It’s great to be back home and we need to take advantage of that. We’ll be ready to play. We don’t have too many games at home in September so we need to make a stand and win when we’re here.”

On improving during the season
“We worked on getting better from the weekend. There are things we didn’t do too well. We haven’t really had time to get much training in. The good thing is there are only a couple of little things that need to be fixed. Tomorrow is a good test for us to see if we can do those things.”

South Carolina returns to the road this weekend when they compete in the Carolinas’ Cup, held in Charlotte. The Gamecocks will square off against Charlotte Friday at 7:30 p.m. and conclude with Furman Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Winthrop enters Wednesday’s match with a 0-1-2 record after dropping a 2-0 decision to Western Carolina last Friday. The Eagles recorded draws against Appalachian State and Francis Marion. Junior goalkeeper Dimitri Poulos was tabbed as the 2007 Big South Preseason Player of the Year after being the unanimous choice as the 2006 Player of the Year. She led the conference in 2006 in saves, shutouts and shutouts per game and currently holds a 0.87 goals against average this season. The Eagles were chosen to finish second in the conference this year after posting a 13-5-3 overall record last season. Junior forward Erin Foote scored the lone goal for Winthrop this season in the 1-1 tie to Francis Marion in the season opener.

South Carolina sophomore Blakely Mattern has been named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after her performance in this weekend’s victories against UC Davis and UNLV. The honor marks the second time in as many weeks that a Gamecock earned the recognition as senior goalkeeper Lindsay Thorstenson took home Player of the Week honors the previous week. Mattern earns the honor for the first time in her career after being named the Defensive MVP at the UCF Tournament this weekend. She patrolled the center of the defense and was instrumental in preventing the Aggies and Rebels from getting shots on goal with her headers out the box. Mattern also delivered a key pass in the box that led to Carolina’s lone goal in the 1-0 win against UNLV. Mattern was also named a unanimous pick for the All-Tournament team.

South Carolina will face four opponents for the first time in 2007, including this weeks’ opponent Winthrop. The Gamecocks will also compete against East Tennessee State, UC Davis and Marshall and for the first time in 2007.

With the victory against UC Davis last Friday, South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith earned the 100th victory of her coaching career. She currently leads the all-time USC coaching list with 59 victories at the helm of the Carolina program.

The Gamecocks carry a 12-match unbeaten streak at Stone Stadium. South Carolina went 8-0-3 in Columbia last season, the first time that the Gamecocks went an entire season without a loss at Stone Stadium. The streak includes dates with nationally ranked Tennessee and Florida. The Gamecocks have outscored opponents by an average of 2.25-0.58 points during the streak.

Senior Darcel Mollon returns to the squad after redshirting the 2006 season with an injury. Mollon led the team in scoring in 2005 with 14 points and is one of USC’s most dynamic playmakers. The Trinidad National Team member recorded two goals in the first seven minutes against ETSU and scored the gamewinner against UC Davis, quickly reclaiming the team lead in goals and tying Erin Sullivan for most points with six.

The University of South Carolina women’s soccer team received its highest rankings in school history last week after knocking off then-No. 1 North Carolina and ETSU. The Gamecocks peaked at No. 13 in the Soccer America poll, earned its highest ranking ever in the Soccer Buzz poll at No. 21 and entered the NSCAA/adidas Coaches poll at No. 22. Carolina also earned a No. 19 ranking in the Soccer Times poll. Carolina again achieved new highs this week in all polls, staying at No. 13 in Soccer Times and jumping to No. 15 in Soccer Times, No. 16 in the NSCAA poll and No. 20 in Soccer Buzz. This season marks South Carolina’s first time reaching the top 25, and this week marks the third time being ranked in the polls. Prior to last week, South Carolina had achieved a No. 29 ranking last season the week of Oct. 2.