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Nov. 12, 2008

South Carolina vs. William & Mary | Friday, 7:30 p.m.
General Information – NCAA First Round at Durham, N.C.
Game Notes icon-acrosmall.gif | Koskinen Stadium Directions | Stadium Guide

Redshirt sophomore Mollie Patton endured two seasons on sidelines at Carolina, not able to play or practice much due to multiple concussions. Now on the field for the first time in three years, Patton has tied the USC single-season record for shutouts and leads the SEC as Carolina prepares for a Friday night NCAA Tournament against William & Mary in Durham, N.C. A Milford, Ohio native, Patton met with to talk about her tough road. When did you start playing soccer and why do you wear #29 as a goalkeeper?
Mollie Patton: I started playing when I was four. They put me back there. I’ve been #11 since I was like 12. The other goalie on my team was double-zero (00) and I was sad so I got double-one. Then my mom told me, “Mollie, that’s eleven not double-one. So I’m 29 now because 2+9=11.

What’s your favorite thing about being a keeper?
I don’t like to run, so that’s a good thing. You also always get to be the hero.

You sat out two years behind two other keepers that just graduated. What was it like not being able to play for two years? What did you go through?
I knew coming here there were two older people, but I took it as a learning experience. The second year I knew I wasn’t allowed to play because of the concussion, but I think it ended up being a good thing because I got to learn from Laura (Armstrong) and `T’ (Lindsay Thorstenson) and adjust.

You have been injured twice. What were your injuries and how did you get them?
One was before the alumni game. I don’t really remember it. I guess I came out and dove. Shannon was attacking and one of the alumni players was the back. I heard they tried to jump over me. I don’t know if that’s true. I just jumped and someone headed my head. For the other, I had post-concussion syndrome. I got hit and all my symptoms came back. I barely got hit but all my symptoms came back.

On the other hand, you were able to learn from Coach Mat Cosgriff and the other two. What have you been able to learn from him here?
He’s honestly the best coach I’ve ever played for. He’s really smart and good at telling you what you need to improve. He’s honest with you; he doesn’t beat around the bush. He doesn’t scream at you. As long as you work hard he’s happy. When you don’t do as well, he won’t put you down about it.

Finally almost three years later you’re back on the field. Would you have preferred to just jump right into it or do you think you got something out of being able to get comfortable with the program?
In preseason last year, I got to do non-contact stuff like catching, boring stuff, but I knew that if I sat out completely then when I had the chance to play that I wouldn’t be ready. I wish I only had to sit out one year, but two years was good. If I started playing right out of high school, I don’t think I would’ve been ready.

Your first game was at UNC Wilmington. What was it like stepping back on the field after all that time? Were you nervous or scared at all?
I was nervous but excited because it was what I was waiting for for two years. Actually longer because I committed my junior year of high school. This is what I’ve been waiting for. I had two saves, which was exciting, but I was sad we didn’t win my first game. It was great getting a shutout my first time playing, but I wish we had the win.

You opened the season with a 400-minute shutout streak and held on for a tie against #7 Florida State. After seeing FSU beat Auburn the day before, what went through your mind as you prepared to face them?
I knew it was my chance to prove to everyone that I could do it. The final score was 3-3 but it really doesn’t show how I can play. Getting three goals scored on you, you’re usually upset about it. I was upset about three goals scored, but I also made some big saves that I hadn’t made in a while. Before the game, I thought `OK I have to get ready’ but I wasn’t scared. I was ready to just do what I had to do.

What has been your most memorable game so far?
I was excited about beating Tennessee. That and the Florida State game were exciting for me.

You’ve already tied the USC single season record for shutouts with at least two more games to go. Is that something you are proud of to see that you have done so well in your first year?
Shutouts are a total team effort, but it makes me mad because I see how close we were to a few more shutouts. I’m excited though. It’s my first year playing, and to tie a record is exciting.

Did you have any goals for yourself heading into this season?
(Volunteer Assistant) Laura (Armstrong) and I joked around before the season because we have to write goals for ourselves, so I wrote I wanted eight shutouts. I asked her how many she had last year and what the top one was, so I was like, `OK I’m going to get more than you.’ So I wrote eight shutouts down on my sheet. That and to just play with confidence and for our team to play well.

In the media guide you wrote for your one wish you want to see your Grandfather see you play.
Yeah, he actually passed away (earlier this year). He’s never seen me play at USC. He was going to come to our Kentucky game this year and that was the first time he was going to see me play. I’m a pharmacy major now. That’s pretty much why I’m going, because he wanted me to be a pharmacist because that’s what I was originally going to do before I changed with a desire to go to medical school. All his friends told me that he wanted me to be a pharmacist, so now I’m going to be a pharmacist. He also wanted me to wear my helmet, so that’s one of the reasons that I don’t complain about it anymore.

About your helmet, I know you used to not want to wear it. Why not?
I hate how it looks initially. Plus it’s really hot in the summer. Now it’s kind of a part of me. It makes me look fierce.

You have a NCAA bid and play William & Mary Friday night. How well can this team do to close out the season?
We’re capable of doing well, especially with how well we’ve been playing lately .I think we can go further than we ever have and shock some people.