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Aug. 21, 2009

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GREENVILLE, S.C. – The South Carolina women’s soccer team defeated the Mexican women’s full national team 2-0 in an exhibition friendly Friday night in front of 3,000 fans at the MeSA Soccer Complex in Greenville, S.C.

Freshman Christine Watts opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a goal courtesy of assists from Brittiny Rhoades and Kayla Grimsley. Less than four minutes later, senior Samantha Diaz-Matosas hit the insurance goal following a cross from Brooke Jacobs for the 2-0 lead at 35:12.

“I was very proud of our team’s effort,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “We wanted to utilize the things we worked on the preseason. We’re building off last year, and our girls did a good job to compete and put themselves in position to win the game.”

South Carolina led the game in shots, 12-11, and Gamecock keeper Mollie Patton notched a strong game between the pipes in securing the shutout. The redshirt junior recorded five saves, including three on consecutive 1v1 attacks by Mexico’s Monica Ocampo that tested Patton in the second half on shots inside the box. She came away with three diving saves in the two-minute span.

Always a strong unit, the Carolina defense was led by senior captain Blakely Mattern, who returned to the fields where she played her club soccer as a member of CESA, the club that sponsored the exhibition between the two teams.

“It’s nice to play in front of a crowd like that and show them some of the things we can do. At first I thought it was the U20 team; I had no idea it was going to be the actual full national team. It was amazing to come back and play at my old field. I haven’t been here since high school and it looks different, but it was nice to play in front of lots of fans, friends and family.”

Mexico opened the game on a strong offensive with two shots in the opening eight minutes of competition, but a header by Gamecock Shannon Bigbie that was saved in the ninth minute changed the momentum for South Carolina. The Gamecocks began to control the run of play, and on its next best look was able to score after Watts scored at 31:43.

At the restart, South Carolina continued to move on the attack with successive shots and a corner kick in the next two minutes before Diaz-Matosas placed one into the inside corner of the net at 35:12 to give South Carolina the cushion it needed. The remainder of the half saw a shot by both teams as Watts attempted another that was saved by Mexico keeper Erika Vanegas and Patton saved an attempt by Ocampo before the half.

In the second half, Mexico was able to string together flurries of shots, but none would break the plane against the Carolina defense.

The Gamecocks begin the regular season at home against College of Charleston on Thursday, Aug. 27th, the first game between the in-state rivals since the 2002 season.