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Oct. 29, 2008

South Carolina vs. #7 Florida | Thursday, 8 p.m.
Fox Soccer Channel (ch. 149)
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General Information
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina returns home for its regular season finale against the seventh-ranked Florida Gators Thursday night. The match will be nationally broadcast live on the Fox Soccer Channel at 8 p.m. as the NSCAA College Game of the Week. The Gamecocks, currently ranked fifth in the SEC standings with a 5-3-2 record, will look to defend a 13-game home unbeaten streak while ending Florida’s 11-game winning streak. The Gamecocks earned their third consecutive SEC Tournament berth with their win at Arkansas, marking the first time Carolina has advanced to postseason play in three consecutive years.

Thursday is Senior Day as the Gamecocks will honor their lone senior, Danila Monteiro, prior to the match. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as we pay tribute to Monteiro.

A live audio broadcast and Gametracker will be available at The national television broadcast can be found on Time Warner Cable channel 149.

South Carolina will travel to Orange Beach, Ala., for the SEC Tournament. Carolina, currently seeded fifth in the conference race, can finish anywhere from second to sixth.

Florida is looking to become the first team to finish 11-0-0 in SEC play. The conference began the current scheduling format (11 games, each team plays each team once) in 2004, and no team has gone undefeated since that format began. The Gators have already wrapped up their third consecutive SEC regular season championship crown. Three Gators have scored over 20 points this season, led by Megan Kerns (10g, 7a, 27p). Freshman Tahnai Annis is second on the team with nine goals and four assists for 22 points. The Gators have used a platoon system at goalkeeper, but Meghan Berlingo has received the nod recently and has performed well with a 0.50 goals against average and a sparkling 11-0-0 record with four shutouts.

South Carolina and Florida have been even in the last three matches at Stone Stadium with each of the last three matches in Columbia going into overtime. The Gamecocks posted a 1-0 victory in 2002 courtesy of an Ashley Williams golden goal. The Gators prevailed in the 2004 meeting, winning 2-1 in extra minutes. The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in 2006 with Mary Worthen scoring the goal for the Gamecocks.

No. 7 Florida will be the third ranked team the Gamecocks will play this season after tying then-No. 7 Florida State 3-3 at the Auburn Soccer Classic and then-No. 13 LSU 0-0 at home. Florida will be the highest ranked team to enter Stone Stadium since the Gamecocks recorded a 2-0 victory over No. 7 Clemson on Sept. 15, 2004. The Gamecocks are 2-0-0 all-time at home against teams ranked in the top 10, both wins coming against Clemson.

South Carolina has been nearly unstoppable at Stone Stadium the past two seasons, posting a 23-1-5 record at home since 2006. The streak included a 15-game unbeaten streak from Aug. 31, 2006-Oct. 5, 2007. Carolina is currently in the midst of a 13-game unbeaten streak at “The Graveyard”. 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 has 17 shutouts during the 29 game stretch, including 11 of the last 17 matches.

Redshirt-sophomore Mollie Patton has been one of many bright spots upon Carolina’s new starters this year. Playing for the first time since she graduated high school in 2005, Patton currently is third in the SEC with a 0.81 goals against average despite playing the most minutes of all keepers. She tied a USC single-season record – and is tied for first in the SEC – with her seventh shutout this year in a 0-0 draw against No. 13 LSU. She began the season with a 434:23 shutout streak and came up big in Carolina’s draw with No. 7 Florida State.

Senior Danila Monteiro saw the field for the first time in nearly a month when she played eight minutes against Ole Miss. The lone senior on the team, Monteiro missed five games after a hard foul to the back in the second minute at Western Carolina knocked her to the ground and she missed the remainder of the game with a leg injury. Monteiro, who missed the 2007 regular season finale and postseason after tearing her ACL, also missed the Furman game this year after suffering a concussion in the Clemson win with a ball to the back of the head.

Freshman Kayla Grimsley has carried her strong play from the non-conference portion of the season to SEC play. Grimsley currently leads Carolina with eight goals and four assists for 20 points, numbers that rank second all-time for Carolina freshmen with at least two games remaining. Even more impressive is that 11 of her 20 points have come in six SEC games (4 goals and 3 assists). Grimsley has earned weekly honors from Top Drawer Soccer, Soccer Buzz, Soccer America and the SEC. Her weekend against Kentucky and Vanderbilt made her just the second Gamecock to score three goals in one SEC weekend – the last being Jennie Ondo in 1999.

Junior midfielder Kim Miller had a game to remember against Arkansas. She did as an individual what no team as a whole could do all season – score two first half goals against the Razorbacks. Miller scored in the 15th and 37th to lead Carolina to a 3-1 victory. Her goals ended a three-game scoreless streak for Carolina, the longest since the 2001 season. Her efforts earned her Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week honors and the USC athletics department player of the week honors.

Defense has been the calling card for coach Shelley Smith’s teams and the 2008 season thus far looks to be no different. The Gamecocks posted four consecutive shutouts to open the season, the first time a South Carolina team held opponents scoreless through the first four games, and currently lead the conference with eight shutouts on the year.

After playing six matches in extra minutes last season – all coming after the start of SEC play – the Gamecocks have played five so far this year. South Carolina tied UNC Wilmington and No. 7 Florida State in double-overtime and defeated Furman 2-1 in the first OT. The win marked Carolina’s first OT victory since defeating LSU (also by a 2-1 score) on Oct. 20, 2006. Two SEC games have gone to overtime, both ending in draws – Georgia (1-1) and #13 LSU (0-0).

The catalysts of the Carolina offense has come from the starting midfield trio of juniors Kim Miller and Lindsay Small and freshman Kayla Grimsley . Those three have combined for 15 of Carolina’s 27 goals and rank first, second and third on the team in points.

Sophomore Brooke Jacobs scored in the 8th minute against Mississippi State for her second career goal – both having gone as game-winners. Jacobs’s goal against the Bulldogs marked the first goal this season by a player that strictly plays forward; a combination of defenders and midfield/forwards scored Carolina’s first 20 goals this season. Jacobs scored her second goal of the year in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Arkansas.

South Carolina is ranked in the top two in the SEC in every major defensive category. Led by starting defenders Brittiny Rhoades, Ellen Fahey, Blakely Mattern and Samantha Diaz-Matosas, Carolina has registered an conference best eight shutouts. The team holds a 0.80 goals against average, allows only 8.74 shots per game and has limited opponents to 3.82 shots on goal, all ranking second in the SEC. Carolina limited Mississippi State and LSU both to only four shots in those games, marking the ninth time Carolina has done that to an SEC opponent.

The South Carolina defense has been consistently one of the top in the SEC and in the nation, and all signs point to this season being another strong one for the Garnet and Black. The Gamecocks return two former Freshman All-Americans in junior Blakely Mattern and sophomore Brittiny Rhoades. Mattern (Simpsonville, S.C.) has started every game of her career at center back, earning Freshman All-America honors in 2006 and becoming Carolina’s first All-American after picking up honors in 2007. Mattern also picked up SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, becoming the first sophomore in conference history to earn the honor, and earned a trip to the US U-20 National Team camp last spring. Rhoades (Wilmington, Del.) set a USC freshman record with 23 games played and 22 games started last year at left back, becoming the second Freshman All-American in as many years for the defense.