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Nov. 3, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith was named SEC Coach of the Year, senior Blakely Mattern was named SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year, and four Gamecocks earned All-SEC honors to cap the most successful women’s soccer regular season in program history, the conference office announced Tuesday.

It is the first SEC Coach of the Year honor and second overall for Smith, who guided South Carolina (15-3-2, 7-3-1 SEC) to school records for conference (seven) and overall (15) victories this season. The Gamecocks recorded a program-best second place finish in the SEC East and came within one game of winning the overall title. As head coach at Rhode Island, Smith was named the 1998 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year after guiding the Rams to a 12-7-1 record in her second season.

“I am very honored to be selected as Coach of the Year,” Smith said. “To be recognized among such a tremendous group of coaches that we have in the SEC is a true honor. I want to thank them for recognizing my staff and me. This award really goes to Jamie (Smith) and Mat (Cosgriff) for all their efforts. Our staff is a team of coaches and we all share many duties. Mat has done wonders with our goalkeepers and I can’t say enough about my husband Jamie and all he does for our program. This award is as much their honor as mine, and I thank them for helping our program achieve this type of recognition and success through the season. This is also a credit to our entire team for working so hard to prepare for the season and putting so much into their play all year.”

In addition to being named Scholar Athlete of the Year, Mattern joined sophomore forward Kayla Grimsley as First Team All-SEC selections, two of only four players in the league to earn unanimous selections to the team. Senior midfielder Kim Miller and defender Samantha Diaz-Matosas earned their first All-SEC honors after the duo made the second team, as voted by the league’s coaches. The four players selected to the first and second teams are the most selections for South Carolina since 2007 when three players were selected to the two teams and another was selected to the All-Freshman team.

Mattern (Simpsonville, S.C.) is a four-time All-SEC selection and earns her third consecutive First Team honor. A Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist, Mattern has been the leader of a defense that ranks first in the SEC in shutouts, goals against average, shots allowed and shots on goal allowed. She has six goals and an assist for 13 points despite only taking 16 shots this season, a 0.375 clip. She earns SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year honors with a 3.985 grade point average in international business. She was named a First Team Academic All-American last year.

Grimsley (Lakeland, Fla.) leads South Carolina with 10 goals and five assists for 25 points. She becomes just the fifth player in Gamecock history to record a 10-goal season. Just a sophomore, Grimsley is currently sixth all-time at South Carolina with 47 career points.

“I’m proud of what these two players have done this year,” Smith said of Mattern and Grimsley. “After being tabbed All-SEC in the preseason, they both worked hard to earn those honors again throughout the season. With Blakely as a captain and team leader organizing our defense, and Kayla stepping up to create opportunities and finish key goals for us all year, we know how important they are to our success as a team. I am glad they have earned recognition for those performances.”

Miller (Farmingdale, N.Y.) has been one of the most consistent performers for South Carolina the past four seasons. A team captain and four-year starter, Miller has had a breakout senior season with 10 assists, five coming on game-winning goals. She ranks 20th in the NCAA and second in the SEC in assists this year and is No. 2 on the South Carolina single season and career lists in the category.

Diaz-Matosas (Lilburn, Ga.) is also a four-year starter that has played primarily at right back but also moves up as an attacker throughout matches. She finished the year with three goals and four assists for 10 points and, along with Miller, has been potent on corner kicks from the left.

“We have such a tremendous group of seniors, and they have all worked hard to become better players every year,” Smith said. “They have brought our program a long way in their four years here, and I am so excited that Sam and Kim have been recognized for their efforts in addition to Blakely. They have both played key roles for us on the field since they were freshmen, and I am proud of their accomplishments. I think we had several players that could be honored this year as having All-SEC performances, but this is a huge credit to Sam and Kim for being recognized by the coaches among our conference. There are so many top players throughout the SEC, and I know they are honored to earn this recognition in their senior year.”