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Jan. 15, 2010


PHILADELPHIA – After ending her career as one of the best to put on a Gamecock jersey, Blakely Mattern will begin a new era of her soccer career after being selected by the expansion Atlanta Beat with the 21st overall pick of the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer League draft Friday at the NSCAA Convention in the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Mattern was the first pick of the third round and the fourth defender taken in the draft. She is the first South Carolina women’s soccer player to be drafted by the league that is currently in its second year of operations. The 2010 season will be the first season for the Atlanta Beat, who will be coached by Gareth O’Sullivan and will play its home games at a newly-constructed, 8,300 seat stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.

“I’m thrilled,” Mattern said of her selection. “I couldn’t be happier. I’m just on cloud nine right now. It’s literally a dream come true to even have a chance to be here, and to think I’m going to be playing professional soccer is unbelievable to me. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. It couldn’t have worked out any better. I was hoping for Atlanta all along just because I’m familiar with their coach and the area, and all the support of family and friends that can easily get there to watch down in Atlanta. That was the ideal situation and I couldn’t be happier that that’s where I’ll be going.”

Mattern was a two-time All-American at South Carolina and in 2009 was a consensus first team selection after earning All-America nods by the NSCAA, Soccer America and the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Organization. She was the 2007 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first sophomore in conference history to earn the honor, and is a four-time All-SEC selection. In her final season, she was captain of a defense that was ranked No. 9 in the nation and led the SEC in every defensive category en route to 15 shutouts and a berth in the NCAA Round of 16. She also contributed seven goals and an assist for 15 points and led the SEC in shot percentage with a .333 clip (min. 0.5 shots/game).

“I’m so excited to have Blakely be a part of the draft,” said South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith, who attended the draft in Philadelphia with Mattern. “I thought it was very well run and professionally done. Blakely felt very anxious. I think she had her dream come true first of all in making the draft but also in being able to stay in Atlanta close to home, friends and family. It could not have been a better day for her. I’m also proud to have her name up on the board, and with the way she’s represented our program, we’re all very proud to have South Carolina by her name.”

“Blakely is a very solid defender who I have seen play on a number of occasions,” Beat head coach Gareth O’Sullivan said. “We look forward to her future in WPS as she develops into a professional player.”

The Women’s Professional Soccer League kicks off its second season in April 2010, representing the highest level of women’s professional soccer in North America. Formed in September 2007 as the result of the efforts of the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc., WPS consists of nine teams across the country located in Atlanta, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.

Atlanta Beat Webpage