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Sept. 18, 2009

Final Stats

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – With 1,424 fans on hand to watch the first matchup between top 25 women’s soccer teams at Stone Stadium, No. 12 South Carolina shutout #17 UCF 1-0 to improve Carolina’s season-opening perfect shutout streak to seven games. The Gamecocks (7-0-0) have not allowed a goal yet in the 2009 season and are one of only three teams in the nation that have achieved that feat.

Sophomore forward Kayla Grimsley scored the game-winning goal at 27:18 courtesy of an assist from Ellen Fahey. Grimsley has scored a point (goal and/or assist) in every game this season and set a new South Carolina record with her seven-match scoring streak, besting the previous record of six that was set by Grimsley last season.

“Tonight Kayla stepped up,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “She played against the best defense we faced this season, and she found a way. That’s the sign of a tremendous goal scorer, which she has proven she is. To do that for us every match, we know it’s something she can do in the SEC season. That’s why she was a Preseason All-SEC pick as a sophomore. She’s gained the respect of a lot of coaches and we’re really thankful for her effort.”

Redshirt junior Mollie Patton tied the South Carolina single-season shutout record with her seventh of the season after registering three saves in the match. Patton now is the sole NCAA leader in shutouts after Boston College and Marshal both allowed goals in their wins Friday night. Patton now has 14 shutouts in her career, one shy of tying the program record of 15 held by Laura Armstrong and Elise Matthews.

The win is South Carolina’s first over a ranked opponent since the Gamecocks defeated No. 15 Tennessee 2-0 in the first round of the 2007 SEC Tournament. The team did so with the help of the third-largest crowd to watch a women’s soccer match at Stone Stadium, many of whom expected to see an intense match between two teams fighting to stay among the nation’s elite.

“It’s huge to have this kind of fan support,” Smith said. “They’re like a 12th player for us on the field. To play in front of a crowd like this keeps our team going when they’re tired. Tonight we asked a lot from our starters. We didn’t sub as much as we have in the past two games. The starters really continue to play so well, and a big part is because the fans were behind them keeping them in the match. We’re glad we can get the win for them.”

Getting good looks early in the first half, the Gamecocks were finally able to get a score on the board when Fahey cleared the ball up to Grimsley for a breakaway with UCF keeper Aline Reis. The reigning NSCAA Player of the Week and an NSCAA All-American last season as a freshman, Reis came out to stop Grimsley, but the sophomore forward used her speed to get a head on the ball around the ’18 and past the keeper for what proved to be the game winner. With her third game winning assist in South Carolina’s first seven games, Fahey ties the single-season record.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t amazing, but as long as we’re winning games that’s the most amazing part of it,” Grimsley said of her record. “We’re 7-0. Our main goal is to come out and win games.”

The score almost jumped to 2-0 four minutes later when freshman Christine Watts sent a beautiful thru ball to Kim Miller in front of the net that was stopped by Reis, and the rebound shot attempt by Ali Glemser was also saved leading to a Gamecock corner kick. Samantha Diaz-Matosas took the service from the left side and sent a swooping ball that clanged of the far post and rolled along the line in front of the net before the Knights kicked it away. Watts found it 10 yards out, but her shot attempt went high to end the threat.

The Golden Knights came out attacking in the second half and reeled off nine unanswered shots in a half where UCF outshot the Gamecocks 9-1. Three attempts between the 70th and 80th minutes gave Carolina scares before the defense came through to help preserve the shutout. In the 71st, UCF’s Nikki Moore nailed a shot in front of the net that was blocked by Fahey. In the 75th, Becca Thomas hit a hard strike from 30 yards out that just went left of the net. A South Carolina foul in the 77th led to a free kick 22 yards out, but the defense blocked the shot attempt to end the threat.

“I’m excited about what we came out and performed,” Smith said. “We played at times where we lost a bit of our play, but that’s because UCF really put the pressure on us. They came out and tried to come from behind. I thought our players stepped up to the challenge and limit their opportunities to score. It was a great effort all around.”

No. 12 South Carolina returns to action Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. when the team hosts South Alabama (2-4) at Stone Stadium.