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Dec. 27, 2007

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The postseason honors continue to roll in for two members of the South Carolina defense as sophomore Blakely Mattern (Simpsonville, S.C.) and freshman Brittiny Rhoades (Wilmington, Del.) earned All-America honors from Soccer Buzz. Mattern was a fourth team selection to become Carolina’s first All-America honoree while Rhoades was named to the third team Freshman All-America squad, the fourth in school history.

“Like all honors I am proud of the accomplishments and happy they have been recognized for outstanding seasons,” head coach Shelley Smith said. “It’s an accomplishment not just for the individuals but for the entire program. We have had some of the most prestigious awards in program history come this season, and with these two being a freshman and sophomore speaks to the future of the program. They will be great leaders in the years to come.”

Mattern, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, had an outstanding year at center back after earning Soccer Buzz Freshman All-America status in 2006. The first sophomore in conference history to earn Defensive Player of the Year, Mattern was a first team All-SEC selection, an NSCAA third team All-Southeast Region selection and was also the first Carolina player to earn first team All-Southeast Region honors by Soccer Buzz this season. She started every game for the Gamecocks and played all but 67 minutes on the field all season to lead Carolina, an average of 91 minutes per contest.


Blakely Mattern



“It’s a great honor,” Mattern said. “I’m proud to represent South Carolina, especially as the first All-American. You hear about All-Americans from other sports and you think that it’s awesome, so now to be on there as well is cool although I would trade in any awards for a championship. I’m glad that my fellow defender Brittiny was honored as well.”

“Blakely earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year was a tremendous honor,” Smith said. “With how strong our conference is and for her to be recognized like that shows she’s one of the best players in the country. It’s nice for her to have that accomplishment so early in her career. Not only on the field, she excels in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA and is a true student-athlete. We are excited to have her in our program.”

Rhoades enjoyed a strong season at left back, starting 22 games to help establish the Carolina defense as one of the best nationally. Rhoades earned SEC All-Freshman Team, Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie Team and Soccer Buzz All-Freshman team honors after establishing herself as arguably Carolina’s top lockdown defender. She follows Mattern (2006), Melinda Carter (1998) and Lydia Bienias (1998) as Carolina’s Freshman All-America selections.

“It’s exciting to earn this honor,” Rhoades said. “It was a fun freshman year. We set a lot of records this season and this is something to add to how proud I am to be a member of this team. I’m glad I could contribute to such a great season.”

“Brittiny coming in as a freshman among such a large group of returning players, she came through right away and met and exceeded expectations,” Smith said. “I know how valuable her contribution has been this season. She and Blakely are tremendous players and have done a great job to solidify the defense. They’re all-around players and it’s nice to have the coaches around the country acknowledge that.”

South Carolina advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history and finished the season 14-6-3, tying a school record for wins in a season. The defense collected a school record 12 shutouts and posted a 0.70 goals against average, the 23rd best mark in the nation. The Gamecocks finished in the top two in the SEC in every major defensive category including points and shots allowed.