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Oct. 18, 2007

South Carolina vs. Alabama (Oct. 19 @ 7 p.m.)
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South Carolina vs. Auburn (Oct. 21 @ 2 p.m.)
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Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer team returns to action when Alabama and No. 25 Auburn visit Stone Stadium this weekend. The Gamecocks (10-4-1; 2-3-1 SEC) and Crimson Tide (9-5-1; 2-3-1 SEC) kickoff Friday at 7 p.m., and the Tigers (9-3-1; 5-1-0 SEC) will meet Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The first 100 fans at both games will receive a South Carolina drawstring bag or water bottle. Friday, all youth under 18 receive $1 admission when wearing a team jersey or tee shirt. Sunday is Family Fun Day and all fans get in for $1.

South Carolina will look to begin a new streak as its 15-match home-unbeaten streak was snapped two weeks ago in a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt.

“It’s a huge weekend,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “Any team we face from here on out is huge for us because we’ve put ourselves in a little hole. We’re digging ourselves out. We are more than capable of making a great run here to finish the season. Our focus is on each game and each opponent day to day. We face these opponents as points we need to gain in the SEC, not as we have to battle them for position. To face two teams that we did well against on the road last year, we’re excited to play them at home and see what happens.”

In Friday’s match, South Carolina will be without leading goal scorer Darcel Mollon, who received two yellow cards in Sunday’s victory at Ole Miss and must sit out the next game. Sophomores Shannon Bigbie, Leah Loguidice and Kacie Brewer will look to bolster the Carolina attack on the left side of the field along with freshman Brooke Jacobs. Bigbie earned her first start of the season at Ole Miss. Loguidice recorded the assist on the game-winning goal Sunday and also had a score called back against Mississippi State last weekend due to an offside call.

“There are players all year that have played in that area of the field and done well,” Smith said. “We’ve played Darcel up top and players have done well when they come in. We’ve had plenty of experience in that role all year. Shannon Bigbie, Mary Worthen, Brooke Jacobs and Annie Galloway can play there. Kacie Brewer can play up there. A lot of people have given us different looks in the wide area. It’s not foreign to us to not have Darcel in that area of the field. We aren’t looking at it as losing the top goal scorer. These players are grasping the chance and opportunity to play maybe more minutes than they have been given. That’s what they are feeding off of. They want the team to do well. We call on our depth and they’ve all done well when we’ve called on them this year.”

Carolina is 6-2 all-time against the Crimson Tide and has not lost to Alabama at home since the first meeting between the two teams in 1997. Freshman goalkeeper Justine Bernier currently leads the SEC with 105 saves and sports a .868 save percentage that the Carolina offense will attack. Junior Kailey Corken leads the team with four goals and four assists for 12 points.

Auburn carries its first national ranking since 2006 after collecting shutout victories last week against ranked LSU and Arkansas. The Tigers are the fourth ranked team that Carolina will face this season and the first to visit Columbia since Florida late last season. Three Tigers received national recognition this week – goalkeeper Allison Whitworth and forwards Stephanie Fransoso and Becca Howell. Whitworth was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week while Fransoso was named to the Soccer America Team of the Week. Howell, the team leader with six goals and 17 points, earned Soccer Buzz and Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week honors following a two-goal, two-assist weekend.