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Sept. 24, 2009

#11 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt | Friday, 7 p.m.
Fox Sports South (TWC Ch. 31)
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#11 South Carolina vs. Kentucky | Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 11 South Carolina opens its SEC schedule with a televised home match against Vanderbilt Friday night at 7 p.m. The Gamecocks (8-0-0) and Commodores (6-1-1) will both attempt to jump to the top of the SEC in the match that will be broadcast live by Fox Sports South. Andy Demetra will be the play-by-play broadcaster for the match, and Katie Witham will provide color commentary.

The Gamecocks will then return to the pitch Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. compete against the Kentucky Wildcats (3-2-3). The game is different from the normal Sunday afternoon starting time of 2 p.m.

Live video can be found at for Sunday’s match. There will be no video webcast for Friday’s match due to the game being televised (Time Warner Cable Ch. 31). There will be an audio broadcast, however.

The Gamecocks hit the road after the current four-game homestand with a trip to the Magnolia State next weekend. The Gamecocks will face Ole Miss Friday at 7 p.m. before playing Mississippi State at 2 p.m.

Vanderbilt comes into the match witha 6-1-1 record with the lone loss coming against Texas Tech. The Commodores have been led by juniors Molly Kinsella (4g, 7a, 15p) and Nicole Lukens (5g, 1a, 11p). Lukens was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week this week and leads the team with five goals after missing the 2007 season to injury. Junior Rachel Bachtel holds a 0.55 goals against average with two solo shutouts this year.

Kentucky enters the match with a 3-2-3 record under new coach John Lipsitz. The Wildcats have had a difficult time scoring – their 3-0 win against Tennessee Tech Sunday snapped a five-match scoreless streak. However, the team has also limited opponents from scoring as Kentucky holds a 6-4 scoring advantage through eight games. In addition to Tennessee Tech, the team holds wins against Cincinnati (2-1) and Louisville (1-0), teams South Carolina played and defeated 4-0 and 3-0. The Wildcats are led by sophomore Jenna Goblirsch’s two goals and five points, while junior keeper Sydney Hiance sports a 0.46 goals against average with five shutouts. Senior forward Katie Fahey is the older sister of South Carolina sophomore defender Ellen Fahey.

With eight consecutive shutout victories to open the season and an 25-1 scoring differential, South Carolina has jumped in the national polls and peaks at No. 11 in the Soccer America poll The Gamecocks also come in at No. 12 in the NSCAA coaches poll and No. 13 by Soccer Times. The rankings are the highest South Carolina has been ranked since the week of Sept. 17, 2007 when the team came in at No. 7 by Soccer America and No. 10 by the NSCAA.

South Carolina has been nearly unstoppable at Stone Stadium the past three seasons, posting a 27-2-5 record at home since 2006. The streak included a 15-game unbeaten streak from Aug. 31, 2006-Oct. 5, 2007 and a 13-game unbeaten streak at “The Graveyard” from Oct. 19, 2007-Oct. 23, 2008. The lone blemishes on the record are a double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt (Oct. 7, 2007) and a loss to #7 Florida (Oct. 30, 2008). The season opening win against College of Charleston was Coach Shelley Smith’s 50th win at Stone Stadium.

Noted as one of the top defensive teams in the country under Shelley Smith, South Carolina has continued that excellence this season and added a little offensive flair as well. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in defense (0.125 goals against average) and No. 15 in the NCAA in scoring offense (3.13 goals/game). With the production, South Carolina is also at the top of the SEC lists. The team leads the conference in goals allowed, goals against average, shutouts, assists, points, shot percentage and shot on goal percentage.

Headed into last Sunday’s game against South Alabama, South Carolina was one of three teams in the nation to start the season with seven consecutive shutouts. The Gamecocks allowed a goal with four minutes to play against the Jaguars, but goalkeeper Mollie Patton’s streak remains alive as she was not in the final 30 minutes of the match.

Senior Kim Miller has been one of the most consistent performers for South Carolina the past four years, and the New York native has stretched that consistency to another part of her game in her final season. Miller is currently tied for 8th in the NCAA with six assists so far this season. In a two-game stretch, Miller recorded assists on four consecutive goals for the Gamecocks.

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Mollie Patton earned Soccer America National Team of the Week honors after her stellar play at the Cardinal Classic. She earned her first national award after shutting out Louisville and Cincinnati to extend her season-opening shutout streak to 360 minutes. Patton currently is the NCAA leader with seven solo shutouts and a 0.00 goals against average. She recently set the SEC record for consecutive shutouts, passing the previous record of six held by Kentucky’s Carrie Kuhnell (1995) and Auburn’s Megan Rivera (2003).

Sophomore Kayla Grimsley has continued the stellar play that she exhibited in her freshman season last year. The flashy player set a new South Carolina record with her current eight-match scoring streak, and her goal against South Alabama ties her program record four-match goal scoring streak. She currently is tied for the SEC lead in goals (7) and points (8). She can crack the SEC Top 5 in consecutive games with a point if she scores (goal and/or assist) in both games this weekend.

Sophomore defender Ellen Fahey started every game at centerback last season as a freshman, continuing the legacy of all-conference caliber freshman defenders after Blakely Mattern (2006) and Brittiny Rhoades (2007). Strong and assertive in the back, Fahey added a new dimension to her play thus far after recording her first four career points, three on game-winning assists. Her three game-winning assists tie the South Carolina single season record.

Goals have been spread around the entire Gamecock team so far with a different player hitting the game-winning goal in six of Carolin’s eight games. Thirteen different players have scored a goal this season, and only five players have scored multiple goals this season: Kayla Grimsley, Kim Miller, Blakely Mattern, Samantha Diaz-Matosas and Lindsay Small.

Senior defender Blakely Mattern has started every game of her career, and with 75 career starts is currently third all-time at South Carolina. She is on pace to surpass Ashley Kirk’s record of 81 starts in the Oct. 16 away game at Georgia. She, along with Samantha Diaz-Matosas and Kim Miller, could surpass the games played record of 83 on the Oct. 22 home finale against Arkansas.