Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

Nov. 6, 2007

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – For the first time in school history, four South Carolina players have earned All-SEC honors, highlighted by Blakely Mattern earning Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors as announced by the league office Tuesday. Senior midfielder Ashley Kirk and Mattern earned first team All-SEC honors, senior forward Darcel Mollon earned second team honors and defender Brittiny Rhoades was named to the All-Freshman team. It is the first time since 2004 that a Gamecock has earned first team honors and is the first time that two earned it the same season.

“As always, we are honored as a program to have these quality players recognized and also to have the greatest amount of players recognized in program history,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “I am very proud of the performances these players have had all season. They have each made a great impact on our success this fall and I am happy the coaches in the SEC recognized their talents as well.”

Mattern (Simpsonville, S.C.) picks up her second conference honor after earning second team All-SEC and All-Freshman team honors in 2005. She becomes the first South Carolina player to earn a conference Player of the Year honor. Mattern was a second team Freshman All-America selection by Soccer Buzz last season and was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first team last week. Mattern has one goal and two assists on the season for four points.

“The quality of the players that are listed on the All-SEC team is outstanding, and to have Blakely stand as the top defensive player is a true accomplishment and much deserved,” Smith said. “Receiving the honor after her sophomore campaign makes it even more impressive. I think she is one of the best defenders in the country.”

Kirk (Macon, Ga.) has earned All-SEC honors in all four of her seasons at Carolina. She was named the 2004 SEC Freshman of the Year and earned second team honors in both 2005 and 2006. She was also named to the 2006 SEC All-Tournament team and was a third team All-Region selection by Soccer Buzz in 2006. Kirk has two goals and ties for a team high five assists for nine points this season.

Kirk and Mattern were Carolina’s sole selections to the inaugural Preseason All-SEC team, voted on by the league coaches in August.

Mollon (Chauganas, Trinidad) leads the team with nine goals and 21 points to earn her first conference honor. She has also contributed three assists and ranks fourth in the conference in goals and points. This season she became the first Gamecock to exceed 20 points in a season since 1999.

Rhoades (Wilmington, Del.) is Carolina’s fifth All-Freshman team selection in the past five years, joining Mattern (2006), Kirk (2004), M.A. Foster (2003) and Shelly Hoddeson (2003). Rhoades has started 19 of 20 games this season at left back and has contributed to 0.67 goals against average that ranks third in the conference and 26th nationally.

“We have had several individual players step up this season that are also worthy of recognition as All-SEC performers,” Smith said. “The four players named are wonderful representatives of our entire program and can give a lot of the credit to a strong team performance.”

South Carolina opens up SEC Tournament action Wednesday against Tennessee with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. ET.