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Nov. 13, 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

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer team heads to Durham, N.C., for the first round of the NCAA Tournament after receiving a second consecutive bid and third in program history. The Gamecocks (11-6-4) will take on William & Mary (14-6-1) in Friday’s first round at 7:30 p.m. Third-seeded Duke and Radford will compete in the other game at 5 p.m. with the winner of the two games scheduled to play Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in second round action at Koskinen Stadium.

South Carolina’s bid is the second consecutive and third overall for the program. The Gamecocks are 0-1-1 in NCAA Tournament games. The first bid came in a 2-0 loss at Charlotte in 1998 when the Gamecocks went 11-6-1 in the regular season. Last season, Carolina earned an at-large bid with a 14-6-2 record when the Gamecocks played Duke to a 1-1 draw at Athens, Ga. Duke advanced with a 4-1 edge in penalty kicks.

William & Mary is led by Hermann Trophy semifinalist and two-time All-American senior forward Claire Zimmeck who has 13 goals and six assists for 32 points on the year. A two-time CAA Player of the Year, Zimmeck is fifth on the W&M all-time points list with 132 points (55g, 12a) in her career. Senior defender Abby Lauer was named the CAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year this season while senior midfielder Dani Collins and keeper Meghan Walker also earned first team honors. Collins is a 2007 All-American and former US U-21 National Team member.

William & Mary is a seasoned team as Coach John Daly has built this program into one of the premier program’s in the nation. The Tribe is making its 23rd NCAA appearance, the third-most in the nation behind North Carolina (26) and Connecticut (25). The Tribe won its third consecutive CAA regular season title this year. Carolina and William & Mary have played one common opponent this year in UNC Wilmington. The Gamecocks tied the Seahawks, 0-0, in the season opener while the Tribe defeated the Seahawks, 3-2, in the CAA conference opener.

Two South Carolina women’s soccer players were named to the Coaches All-SEC teams, the conference office announced Tuesday. Junior Blakely Mattern earned her second consecutive first team selection; freshman Kayla Grimsley was named to the second team and freshman team. Mattern picks up her third honor after earning second team and freshman honors in 2006 and picking up first team honors in 2007. She was also the 2007 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Grimsley earned her place on the second team with a solid season at forward that led to eight goals and four assists for 20 points. She is one of three freshmen to make the All-SEC team in addition to being named to the freshman team.

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 ranks No. 1 in the SEC in shots allowed (174, 8.29/game) and shots on goal allowed (76, 3.62/game). In addition, the team holds a 0.87 goals against average and eight shutouts, both ranking second in the SEC. Carolina limited Mississippi State, LSU, and Georgia to under five shots, and also held both Alabama and Georgia without shots in the second half. Carolina’s 8.29 shots allowed a game is tied for 16th in the nation.

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 five assists for 21 points, numbers that rank second all-time for Carolina freshmen. Even more impressive is that 11 of her 20 points have come in six SEC games (4 goals and 3 assists). She set a South Carolina record with a goal in four consecutive games (Sept 7-18) and tied the program record later in the season with a six-match scoring streak (Sept. 26 – Oct. 12). 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.

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 0.87 goals against average. 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.

South Carolina junior Blakely Mattern and redshirt sophomore Mollie Patton have been named to the CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District (III) team as announced on Thursday (Oct. 30). Mattern earned her second consecutive first team selection, and Patton earned third team honors. Mattern will now be considered for Academic All-America honors, which will be announced next week (Nov. 18).

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.

William & Mary and Carolina face off for the first time Friday. Carolina faced four opponents for the first time during the season, posting a 1-1-2 record in those games. UNC Wilmington was the first as the Gamecocks and Seahawks battled to a scoreless tie in the season opener, followed by Carolina’s 1-0 win over Boston. The Gamecocks tied #7 Florida State before dropping their first match of the season to a scrappy Western Carolina. Last season, USC went 4-0 against first time opponents, defeating East Tennessee State, Winthrop, Marshall and UC Davis last season.

Sophomore defender Brittiny Rhoades continued the strong play from last season that led to her being named a 2007 Freshman All-American. The starter at left back, Rhoades has proven herself to be one of the premier lockdown defenders in the SEC. A set piece specialist, Rhoades has five assists on the year and nine in her career. Oddly, four of her five assists have gone to all of fellow defensive All-American Blakely Mattern’s goals this year.