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Aug. 14, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the Eastern division of the 2008 SEC preseason poll, the conference office announced Thursday. South Carolina finished the 2007 with a 14-6-3 record and earned the sixth seed in the SEC Tournament with a 5-4-2 conference record.

Florida was selected as the favorite to claim the 2008 women’s soccer title in the poll voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches. This marks the 11th year that Florida has been tabbed by the coaches to win the title.

The Gamecocks return six starters and 12 letterwinners from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. Danila Monteiro is the team’s lone returning senior and is a co-captain along with juniors Blakely Mattern and Kim Miller. Carolina also returns starters Shannon Bigbie, Samantha Diaz-Matosas, Brittiny Rhoades and Brooke Jacobs, but the team will look to replace 63 percent of its point-scoring from last season while the loss of decorated seniors Laura Armstrong and Lindsay Thorstenson means a new goalkeeper will mind the net for the first time since 2004.

In the East, Tennessee and Georgia were selected behind Florida with Vanderbilt picked to finish fifth and Kentucky picked sixth. LSU was favored to win the Western Division with seven first-place votes followed by Auburn with five first place votes. Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State round out selections three thru six in the division, respectively.

The conference coaches announced yesterday (Wednesday) that junior defender Blakely Mattern was named to the 12-player Preseason All-SEC team. The selection marks the second consecutive appearance on the team for the two-time All-SEC selection and reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

South Carolina opens its season next Saturday, Aug. 23 for a 2 p.m. game at UNC-Wilmington.

Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(First-Place Votes in Parentheses)

SEC Champion: Florida (7); Tennessee (3); Georgia (2)

2007 Results
Team Poll SEC Pts. Overall Pct.
Eastern Division
Florida (7) 59 9-2-0 27 17-5-3 .740
Tennessee (3) 55 8-2-1 25 15-5-2 .727
Georgia (2) 52 8-1-2 26 18-4-2 .792
South Carolina 37 5-4-2 17 14-6-3 .674
Vanderbilt 23 3-6-2 11 6-10-3 .395
Kentucky 20 4-6-1 13 10-7-3 .575
Western Division
LSU (7) 62 5-2-4 19 12-5-7 .646
Auburn (5) 59 6-5-0 18 10-8-2 .550
Ole Miss 45 4-4-3 15 7-8-5 .475
Alabama 30 2-8-1 7 9-10-1 .475
Arkansas 30 1-9-1 4 8-11-1 .425
Miss. State 20 2-8-1 7 6-12-1 .342