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Jan. 4, 2010

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Following the most successful season in program history with a berth in the NCAA Round of 16 and No. 9 final ranking, the South Carolina women’s soccer team was tabbed as the seventh most improved team in the nation by Somis Sports, a sports information company based in Camarillo, Calif., that covers collegiate football, basketball, baseball, soccer and hockey.

The Gamecocks finished the 2009 campaign with a 19-4-2 record after going 11-7-4 in 2008. The eight-win improvement is tied for fourth in the nation behind Santa Clara (10), George Mason and San Diego State (9 each).

South Carolina’s rating by Somis Sports was a 1.48, making the team the most improved in the Southeastern Conference. A team’s rating roughly equates to net goals (goals scored minus goals against). South Carolina outscored opponents 48-14 this season, setting a school-record for least amount of goals allowed. In the 2008 season, the Gamecocks held a 30-22 scoring advantage. Overall, the team went from an eight-goal advantage in 2008 to a 34-goal advantage in 2009.

Head Coach Shelley Smith guided South Carolina to school records for conference (seven) and overall (19) victories this season en route to earning SEC and NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year honors. The Gamecocks earned the program’s first SEC Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year. South Carolina finished the year with the nation’s ninth-ranked defense with 15 shutouts and a 0.548 goals against average. Senior defender Blakely Mattern was a consensus First Team All-American and was also named a Scholar All-American along with junior goalkeeper Mollie Patton.