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Sept. 15, 2010

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By Miquel Jacobs
Media Relations Assistant

#20 South Carolina vs #23 Minnesota | Thursday, 7 p.m.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 20 South Carolina returns to Stone Stadium Thursday night in a highly anticipated match against No. 23 Minnesota at 7 p.m. The game against the nationally-ranked Golden Gophers marks the fourth time in the last two seasons that Stone Stadium will serve as host to a battle of two nationally-ranked women’s soccer teams.

Season tickets and individual game tickets are on sale. Individual game tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for youth, $1 for Groups of 15 or more and a Family Fun Pack that includes 2 Adult & 2 Youth tickets for $12. Season ticket prices are $25 for adults and $10 for students. They can be purchased at or by calling (800) 4SC-FANS.

South Carolina concludes the non-conference schedule with their second ranked opponent of the week when the team plays No. 22 Wake Forest at 1 p.m. at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Gamecocks and Demon Deacons met in last year’s NCAA Round of 16 match with Wake Forest claiming the 1-0 victory off a literal last-second header for a goal at 89:59.

Minnesota continues to improve in the seventh season under head coach Mikki Denney Wright. After being snubbed for a bid to the NCAA Tournament last season despite a 12-5-3 record, the Golden Gophers have gotten off to a strong start in 2010 and bring a 6-1-1 record into Stone Stadium. Unbeaten since dropping the season opener to Notre Dame, Minnesota features a balanced scoring attack that goes along with solid play in goal by sophomore Cat Parkhill (0.62 GAA). Six Golden Gophers have scored two or more goals this season. The team took a blow at the start of the month when MAC Hermann Trophy Award candidate Jennie Clark broke her collarbone during practice, keeping the All-Region senior defender out of the lineup.

The 2009 senior class left Columbia as the winningest senior class in program history, but the 2010 class can claim that distinction with another solid year. The Class of `09 held a 55-23-14 (.674) record, the most wins and best win-percentage for a South Carolina senior class. The Class of `10 currently claims a career record of 49-18-10 (.701) and also has the chance to become the first class to advance to the NCAA Tournament all four years.

South Carolina has been nearly unstoppable at Stone Stadium the past three seasons, posting a 35-4-6 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), a loss to #7 Florida (Oct. 30, 2008), the NCAA Third Round thriller against #14 Wake Forest (Nov. 20, 2009) and a loss to Louisville earlier this season. Carolina went 11-1-0 at Stone Stadium last season.

South Carolina will face four opponents for the first time this season. Prior to this season, the Gamecocks had never played Northeastern, Ohio, Arizona State or Minnesota. The team is 2-0-1 this year against first time opponents after defeating Northeastern (3-0) and Ohio (2-0) while drawing Arizona State (1-1). In 2009, Carolina went 5-0-0 against first time opponents, defeating Louisville (3-0), Cincinnati (4-0), UCF (1-0), South Alabama (6-1) and Rutgers (1-0).

Freshman Danielle Au had an impact weekend at the Carolina’s Cup with two goals, including the game-winner against Furman in overtime. She became the first Gamecock freshman to score a golden goal since Lexi Tourtellotte (the only other to achieve the feat) did it against Evansville (Oct. 16, 1995) – a span of 15 seasons and 56 overtime games. For her efforts, Au was named the tournament MVP and picked up SEC Freshman of the Week and Primetime Performer of the Week honors.

Junior defender Ellen Fahey missed the Gamecock Courtyard Cup after suffering an injury against Northeastern, and the leader at centerback was missed in the team’s first game without her – a 1-0 loss to Louisville at home. In fact, in the three games South Carolina has played without Fahey since 2008, the Gamecocks have gone 1-2-0, with losses against the Cardinal this year and LSU last year, and the lone win coming against Ohio this season. Fahey returned to the pitch against Arizona State and will be looked upon as the leader at centerback.

Junior Kayla Grimsley, an All-American candidate at forward, has been called upon to play many roles for the youthful Gamecocks in 2010, Already one of the most prolific scorers in Gamecock history, Grimsley has added to her M.O. as a distributionist as well. With four assists already on the season – three coming on game-winning goals – Grimsley moves to No. 2 on the South Carolina all-time list with 17 in her career, behind the 24 put up by Mindy Sanders from 1996-99. Already in the Carolina top three in nearly every offensive category (including goals, assists and points), Grimsley entered the season with the freshman (6) and sophomore (7) records for single-season assists. She needs just two more to also set the junior record.

Sophomore Christine Watts played all 25 games last season at midfield as the team’s top reserve before starting the first two games this year at the same position. However, she’s taken up a new position as the team’s starting right back defender. Watts initially filled in following the injury to Ellen Fahey, and her performance forced the coaches to reshuffle the lineup when Fahey returned to keep Watts starting on the backline. She’s contributed two assists so far in her new position this year.

Freshman midfielder Elizabeth Sinclair is a Gamecock to keep your eyes on. She immediately impressed with her work ethic and skills, taking her all of two games to crack the starting 11 in the spot vacated by the graduation of All-SEC performer Kim Miller. Sinclair brings the same all-around presence to the field that Miller gave the Gamecocks as a four-year starter.

Freshman Samantha McGowan had her collegiate debut against Furman and performed well at forward with two shots. The Canadian national is a goal-scoring threat up top with her height and strength, and is rebounding from an ACL tear suffered last year in high school.