Nov. 4, 2008
|#5 South Carolina vs. #6 Georgia | Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.
|Game Notes | Live Stats
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (11-5-4, 5-4-2 SEC) enters the SEC Tournament as the fifth seed and faces fourth seed Georgia Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex. Carolina finishes third in the SEC Eastern Division, the best finish for the Gamecocks since they also finished third in 2002. The Gamecocks have improved their divisional finish each of the past three seasons (6th-2005, 5th-2006, 4th-2007). The SEC Tournament berth is the seventh in school history and third consecutive after advancing to the semifinals each of the past two seasons. South Carolina and Georgia played to a 1-1 draw in the regular season. After that match, the Bulldogs have gone a tear, winning seven of their last nine games to finish with a .500 overall record (9-9-1).
Check back at GamecocksOnline.com on game day for a link to the live stats of the South Carolina-Georgia match.
CAROLINA IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
South Carolina is advancing to its third consecutive SEC Tournament and seventh overall. The Gamecocks are 1-6-1 in the tournament after recording their first victory last season against Tennessee. However, Carolina has advanced to the semifinals each of the past two seasons with a draw against Vanderbilt in 2006 leading to a 4-3 decision in penalty kicks. South Carolina has met Florida the most, going 0-3-0 against the Gators. They have also met Georgia (0-1-0), Tennessee (1-1-0) and Vanderbilt (0-1-1).
Georgia enters as one of the SEC’s hottest teams despite a 9-9-1 record that leaves them fighting for wins to remain postseason eligible (.500 percentage minimum required). A tough non-conference schedule that saw them face eight consecutive ranked teams (including SEC openers Florida and Carolina) led to a 2-6-0 record before SEC play. Following a loss and tie to open the conference season, Georgia has won seven of its last nine matches.
For the third consecutive year Coach Shelley Smith’s squad exceeded preseason expectations by finishing strong in conference play. Picked by the coaches to finish last in 2005, the Gamecocks earned fifth in the Eastern division. Picked to finish last in the East in the 2007 SEC Preseason poll, the Gamecocks tied a program record for wins en route to a fourth place division finish. Carolina was picked fourth in the 2008 preseason poll and again improved in the standings with a third place finish in the Eastern division.
PATTON SHINES IN FIRST SEASON IN GOAL
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.
Carolina’s RPI is 32, second-best in the SEC and eighth in the brutal South region. The Gamecocks are 3-2-4 against teams with RPI’s in the Top 64, including ties against RPI #4 FSU and RPI #33 LSU.
Defense has been the calling card for coach Shelley Smith’s teams and the 2008 season is 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 Carolina currently is second in the conference with eight shutouts on the year.
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 0.82 goals against average, allows only 8.55 shots per game and has limited opponents to 3.70 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.
PLAYING IT SAFE
South Carolina is the only team to finish the SEC regular season without a yellow card in conference play. After leading the conferences in cautions in 2007, the Gamecocks have only been given three on year with one of those going to the bench.