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Oct. 28, 2008

South Carolina vs. #7 Florida | Thursday, 8 p.m.
Fox Soccer Channel (ch. 149)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior co-captains Blakely Mattern and Kim Miller visited to talk about the season so far, how lone senior Dani Monteiro will prepare for Senior Day, and Thursday’s nationally televised home match against the No. 7 Florida Gators at 8 p.m. South Carolina (11-4-4; 5-4-3 SEC) will look to improve its 13-game home unbeaten streak Thursday night as the Fox Soccer Channel broadcasts the match live (Time Warner Cable ch. 149).

Heading into the final game of the regular season, what are your thoughts on how the year has gone so far – especially given that there is only 1 senior and 14 freshmen on the team.

Kim Miller: Everybody has stepped up their games tremendously and taken on a leadership role. We came in with a lot of freshmen but we also had a strong group of people returning.

What player on the team has surprised you this year, whether it is a newcomer or returning player?

Kim Miller: I think everyone has done really well this year. With so many new players and all of the returners, you can’t really single out one person that has surprised you because we expected to do well. For instance Kayla Grimsley, she’s been really strong for us this year as a freshman but it’s not really a surprise because we knew coming in that she was a highly regarded recruit and that she had a chance to do well.

Blakely Mattern: I agree. I wouldn’t say anyone has really surprised me this year but one player that I am (excited) about is Mollie Patton in goal. She has been amazing for us this year in goal and has come up with some crucial games in her first year in goal.

You two shared captain duties with Danila Monteiro who will celebrate Senior Day Thursday. As the only senior on the team, how would you describe what she brings to the team – whether it is on the field, off the field, or anything?

Blakely Mattern: Dani is our only senior but our team chemistry has been so well this year. Off the field she brings a tremendous amount of energy to everyone around her.

Kim Miller: On the field Dani is extremely passionate and she takes the game seriously. She really loves the team and she loves to play soccer, which is a good thing.

In your mind, what has been the most important weekend we’ve had so far this year?

Kim Miller: I would have to say last weekend against LSU and Arkansas. LSU was ranked and we got the tie, so going in to the Arkansas game we knew that we had to win to get ourselves in the SEC tournament. We were able to put everything from the past aside and pull together and get the win.

Blakely Mattern: Last weekend was definitely huge for us. Limiting a team like LSU that is one of the top scoring teams in the conference to only four shots was good and shows the level our team can play at. I think the weekend of the Auburn Tournament was big. We had a very young team and we were playing our first huge opponents of the year. It’s not like we didn’t play good teams before that, but Marquette was a team that had been ranked earlier in the year and Florida State is a team that is always in the top 10. To come out and get the win against Marquette and then tie Florida State on the road showed us that, yes, we can play with anybody.

Looking forward to Florida, you have tied the Gators in 2006 and lost on the road in 2007. Are you excited about this game, what are your emotions?

Kim Miller: I’m excited. It’s my last regular season conference game as a junior and the last time playing Florida at home. It’s on national television. It’s on Senior Day where we celebrate our other captain and one of my best friends in Dani. (Florida) hasn’t lost a game yet so it’s like we’re the underdog. Coming off the Arkansas game where we played really well and had a good weekend, I’m excited for this game.

Blakely Mattern: Everyone’s really excited because it’s a good opportunity for us because we haven’t beaten them yet as a class (juniors) and they are nationally ranked.

Florida is 10-0 in SEC play. What will this team have to do to give the Gators their first loss?

Blakely Mattern: You have to have confidence in your teammates. As long as we play our game, everything will end up fine for us. They’re a great team but so are we.

The Fox Soccer Channel will broadcast the game nationally. Is there a difference between playing TV games and regular games?

Kim Miller: Even though it’s still just a game like any other you’ve played, in your mind you’re going to be nervous. You have to tell yourself that it’s a just regular game and we’re at home. We’ve got the advantage there. Plus, last time we were on that channel (in a 3-2 overtime loss at Tennessee in 2007) we didn’t do so well. This is our chance for redemption.

Under the lights at Stone Stadium this team has been wonderful the past three years. What is it about playing at The Graveyard that makes it so difficult for teams to come out with a win?

Blakely Mattern: When parents, friends, family or people that just like to come to campus with their families come to the games, it makes a huge impact. Just their cheering helps us in conference season. Even in non-conference games against unranked opponents, they’ve been there.

Why should fans come to this game Thursday night instead of staying at home or going out?

Kim Miller: We’ve had a good season so far, but there’s a lot more to come. It’s only like two hours out of the night and then you have the rest of the day so come out and support us!

Blakely Mattern: It’s a Thursday and there’s not much going on. It would be huge to have a big crowd here for that game.