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Sept. 18, 2008

South Carolina vs. ETSU | Friday, 7 p.m.
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South Carolina vs. Western Carolina | Sunday, 2 p.m.
General Information
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina returns to the pitch Friday with its No. 20 national ranking when they host East Tennessee State University (2-3-0) at 7 p.m. Holding a seven-game unbeaten streak, the Gamecocks hope to continue the strong play they have shown at Stone Stadium where they have won seven straight dating back to the 2007 season, a stretch that included a string of six consecutive shutouts. Carolina will then conclude the non-conference portion of their season when they travel to Cullowhee, N.C., to take on Western Carolina (2-4-0). That Sunday afternoon match is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the Catamount Athletic Complex in the first meeting between the two teams.

Gametracker will be available for both matches at Fans are encouraged to arrive early to Friday’s home game to take advantage of inflattable tents and games designed for children.

South Carolina opens the SEC portion of its schedule next weekend when they host Tennessee and Georgia. The Lady Vols come into town Friday night at 7 p.m. followed by a 2 p.m. match Sunday against the Bulldogs. Carolina fell to both teams in overtime during the 2007 regular season but defeated Tennessee for the first time in program history in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

East Tennessee State enters Friday’s match with a 2-3-0 record after dropping games to North Texas and TCU last weekend. After winning their first two games, the Buccaneers’ have been outscored 14-1 in their current slump that also includes a loss to SEC opponent Vanderbilt. The Bucs are led by freshman Genna Petersen and junior Jordan Monty with one goal and assist each. Last season, South Carolina defeated ETSU in the first meeting between the schools, 5-2.

Western Carolina enters with a 2-4-0 record after earning a 2-1 win against Sacred Heart Sunday. Nikki Collins and Jenny Matteson were named Offensive and Defensive MVP for the team during its time at the Yale Soccer Classic, but goalkeeper Caitlin Williams is a leader on the team with a 1.10 goals against average through five games. The Gamecocks and Catamounts have played one common opponent in East Carolina, a team South Carolina defeated 1-0 and Western Carolina lost to 1-0. The Catamounts travel to SEC rival Tennessee on Friday before taking on the Gamecocks in the first meeting between the two teams.

Heralded freshman Kayla Grimsley performed well since enterig the starting lineup against Boston. She leads the team with three goals, one coming in each of Carolina’s last three games including the game-winner against Marquette and another against No. 7 Florida State. Her efforts led to her being named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week (Wk4) in addition to being named to three national teams of the week:, Soccer Buzz and Soccer America. A flashy player with tremendous ability, Grimsley was named a Soccer Buzz Top 75 national recruit coming out of high school and was a three-time Florida High School Player of the Year.

After starting the season with just three goals in the first four games, the South Carolina offense has awakened recently with six in the last three. The catalysts to the output has come from two midfielders in junior Kim Miller and freshman Kayla Grimsley who have combined for five of those six goals.

Freshman Idana DeCecco has made the most of her opportunities in the early part of the season, scoring the game-tying goal against No. 7 Florida State on her only shot so far this season. DeCecco, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, is the first Gamecock player to hail from Canada. She is only the eighth international player to play at Carolina, the others coming from England, Trinidad, Finland (two players), Brazil, Ireland and Nova Scotia. DeCecco was a U15 and U16 national team member for Canada and is expected to bring a strong defensive presence to the Gamecocks this season.

South Carolina has been nearly unstoppable at Stone Stadium the past two seasons, posting a 19-1-3 record at home since 2006. The streak included a 15-game unbeaten streak from Aug. 31, 2006-Oct. 5, 2007. The lone blemish on the record was a double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt (Oct. 7, 2007) when the Gamecocks surrendered a goal with nine seconds remaining in the game. Carolina recorded 15 shutouts during the stretch, six coming in the eight games in 2007.