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Nov. 10, 2008

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer team earned its second consecutive invitation to the NCAA Tournament as the 2008 selections to the 64-team tournament were announced Monday night. The Gamecocks will take on William & Mary Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Durham, N.C. with the winner scheduled to play the winner of Duke-Radford on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m.

“It’s definitely a relief and we’re very excited for the opportunity,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “This team deserves to be there. They’ve shown they can play with anyone in the country. Unfortunately we didn’t come through with some of those results, but we’re just glad to have the opportunity to play again. I know we’re a team that’s capable of winning games in the post season.”

“It’s awesome,” junior midfielder and team captain Kim Miller said. “It’s a chance for our team and program to show other teams that in our last game against Georgia game we didn’t play our best, but we’re better than that. We have to try to get far in the tournament and continue playing.”

William & Mary (14-5-1) earned an at-large bid out of the Colonial Athletic Association after taking the CAA regular season crown. Radford (14-1-6) won the Big South Conference while host Duke earned (12-5-3) a top 16 seed.

“Just to have the opportunity to play is the exciting part,” Smith said. “Our team has new life going into this. You gain a little more motivation when you realize we have more to play. When you think you’re season might be over, it’s that much more meaningful to be given a second chance.”

The NCAA tournament bid is the third for South Carolina and second consecutive after advancing to the tournament last season. In 2007, the Gamecocks played Duke to a 1-1 tie in Athens, Ga., before the Blue Devils advanced on penalty kicks. South Carolina’s only other NCAA appearance came in 1998.

“It’s a credit to the SEC that our conference gained a lot of respect even through this year,” Smith said. “We’ve done the same thing (as a program). We’re not a team that’s dismissed as easily anymore. We’ve been in that room in the past and had significant wins and been looked passed, so I think this says a lot about our program and the credibility we’ve gained over the last couple of years. I’m glad it’s showing with an at-large bid two seasons in a row.”

South Carolina (11-6-4) played 10 of its 21 games against teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks posted a draw against No. 2 seed Florida State at a neutral site early in the year and also posted marquee wins against Marquette, Boston U. and SEC Tournament champion Tennessee.