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Oct. 11, 2009

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Coach Smith

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Senior Blakely Mattern scored two goals 100 seconds apart to lead the unbeaten No. 7 South Carolina women’s soccer team to a 2-0 shutout of Alabama (5-6-1, 1-3-1 SEC) Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium. The shutout was an NCAA-leading 11th of the season for the Gamecocks (13-0-1, 4-0-1 SEC) as Mattern, a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist, notched two goals in a game for the second time this season.

Mattern, who tied the South Carolina program record with her 81st career start, vaulted into the Gamecock top 10 with her 36th career point after the two-goal night. The center back hit both goals on headers, the first off a free kick at 11:07 and the second off a corner kick at 12:47. Kim Miller notched her eighth assist of the season on the game-winner, and Samantha Diaz-Matosas earned the assist on the second goal.

“I thought we came out today well,” South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. “Sunday in the SEC is difficult. After a Friday night game, recovery time is minimal, but our team came out and played right from the start. Blakely has been outstanding all year. She came through with two tremendous goals. Putting us up early in a game really sets the tone. (We had) wonderful services.”

In the net, junior Mollie Patton extended her national lead in shutouts and goals against average after only making one save in a match that the Gamecocks held an 18-5 shot advantage (11-1 shots on goal advantage). She now has 11 shutouts this season and sports a 0.14 goals against average with only two goals allowed all season.

In front of the eighth-largest crowd to watch a women’s soccer match at Stone Stadium with 1,023 fans in attendance, the Gamecocks scored the first goal on just their second shot of the match after a foul was whistled against Alabama for what amounted as a shortened corner kick from the right side. Miller sent the service into the box and it found the head of Mattern for the score. It was the fourth assist on a game-winning goal this season for Miller, allowing the senior midfielder to set a program record with her seventh career game-winning assist.

Just over a minute later South Carolina was awarded a corner kick after a shot by Kortney Rhoades was saved by Alabama keeper Justine Bernier and deflected out of bounds. Diaz-Matosas, who score the golden goal in Carolina’s Friday night thriller against Auburn, took the service and once again the ball found the head of Mattern to give South Carolina the cushion it needed.

Playing with a first half, two-goal margin, the Gamecocks continued to control possession throughout the game, battering Bernier with shots and forcing the keeper to make nine saves on the day. The Gamecocks held a slight 7-6 advantage in corner kicks and increased their season-opening unbeaten streak to 14 games.

“Miller put the ball right where we needed it in the box, and the finishes Blakely had were excellent,” Smith said. “It was a tremendous job by Sam as well with her set pieces. To finish those chances put us in a better position. The rest of the game, players continued to give us a lift with their minutes. I’m really proud of the team effort, and we did a really good job to stay undefeated in the SEC.”

South Carolina hits the road next weekend with a trip to No. 18 Georgia and traditional SEC power Tennessee. The games mark a tough end of the season stretch for the Gamecocks with four of the final five games on the road. The end of the schedule includes away games at No. 18 Georgia, Tennessee, No. 13 LSU and No. 14 Florida.