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March 30, 2009

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer team has announced its schedule for the 2009 fall season that features seven opponents that participated in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks will host nine games at Stone Stadium this season including five SEC matches and a season opening match against College of Charleston on Friday, Aug. 28th, the first game between the in-state rivals since the 2002 season.

Carolina will host Western Carolina the same weekend with a match on Aug. 30th before traveling to Louisville, Ky. to compete in the Louisville Tournament from Sept. 4-6 where the Gamecocks will play Big East teams Louisville and Cincinnati for the first time.

“We are excited at the opportunity to play two strong Big East teams this fall,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “This trip will feature some strong competition which should prepare us well as we head into the SEC schedule which is always full of tough road trips.”

South Carolina will participate in the fifth annual Carolina Cup tournament, which will be played at Clemson’s Riggs Field this season. The rivalry between the Gamecocks and Tigers will renew Friday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The Gamecocks will play UNC Wilmington in Sunday’s finale as Coach Smith’s team looks to win the tournament title for the second consecutive year. The team will return home the next weekend to close the non-conference season with a pair of first time opponents in NCAA Tournament team UCF (Sept. 18) and South Alabama (Sept. 20).

“We are looking forward to defending the Carolina Cup at Clemson this year,” Smith said. “South Carolina has never won at Clemson before, so this team is looking forward to making history again this fall, and that would be a great start.”

The SEC schedule features five teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament and for the first time in three years Carolina will not open with Eastern division rivals Georgia and Tennessee. The SEC slate begins with home matches against Vanderbilt (Sept. 25) and Kentucky (Sept. 27) before traveling to Ole Miss and Mississippi State the following weekend. Other home conference matches include Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas while the Gamecocks travel to Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Florida – all participants in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

“Our 2009 SEC schedule is difficult,” Smith said. “It is a year where we play the top teams in the conference on the road, and we play more away games than home in the SEC. This group is good enough to go on the road, play well and face the extra challenges of the SEC season this year.”

The Gamecocks lost only one senior from a roster of 28 and return 10 starters from the 2008 squad that went 11-7-4 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, a program first. South Carolina will welcome seven freshmen and two transfer players that are currently participating in spring training with the team.