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Sept. 30, 2010

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By Miquel Jacobs
Media Relations Assistant

South Carolina vs Ole Miss | Friday, 7 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
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South Carolina vs Mississippi State | Sunday, 2 p.m. (CSS)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 20 South Carolina will play its SEC home opener in front of the entire nation as its Friday, Oct. 1 fixture against the Ole Miss Rebels has been selected as the NSCAA National Game of the Week. The match between the two SEC rivals will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Stone Stadium with the game airing on a four-hour tape delay on the Fox Soccer Channel (11 p.m. broadcast). The game marks the third time in four years that Coach Smith’s team will make an appearance as the NSCAA National Game of the Week on FSC.

The Gamecocks will then host Mississippi State in a Sunday afternoon match televised by CSS Sports. That match will kickoff at 2 p.m. from The Graveyard. (NOTE: CSS Sports is not available in the Columbia area or on any satellite television service. To see if the channel is available in your area, CLICK HERE).

SEC Weekly Feature

•$1 Ticket Night
•The first 75 students will receive FREE PIZZA
•Double Student Rewards Points
•The first 250 fans will receive South Carolina fan scrolls

Heading into the weekend, senior goalkeeper Mollie Patton has 29 career solo shutouts at South Carolina. Her 29 shutouts are four shy of tying the SEC record of 33, held by Megan Rivera of Auburn (2001-04). She already holds the SEC records for consecutive shutouts (7) and single-season shutouts (15), and was already the South Carolina all-time record holder before the season began.

Ole Miss enters its second consecutive weekend on the road with confidence after defeating Auburn 2-1 last Sunday. Under first year coach Matt Mott, the Rebels are led by junior midfielder Dylan Jordan’s SEC-leading seven goals, four of the game-winning variety. Taylor Cunningham, the lone senior on the team, has also played well in the midfield. Freshman Sarah Story has taken over goalkeeping duties with a 1.20 goals against average to go with 25 saves and two shutouts.

When Mississippi State enters Stone Stadium on Sunday, it will be the team’s sixth consecutive road game and fourth in that span against a ranked opponent. The Bulldogs are led by freshman forward Elisabeth Sullivan who has four goals and three assists for 11 points. In all, five Bulldogs have scored two or more goals this season, including sophomore Rachel Wannek who has four goals and three assists despite not playing since the Oklahoma State game (Sept. 17). Sophomore Skylar Rosson sports a 1.25 goals against average with 42 saves and three shutouts.

Senior Mollie Patton currently is tied for the national lead with seven solo shutouts. Patton is tied with New Mexico’s Kelli Cornell for the national lead. A Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award nominee, Patton’s 29 career shutouts leaves her four shy of tying the all-time SEC record of 33 set by Auburn’s Megan Rivera (2002-04).

South Carolina will appear on a TV a minimum of five times in 2010 with three of those games occurring on national TV, marking the fourth consecutive season that Carolina will play in front of a national audience. Five of Carolina’s six SEC home games will be televised, beginning with Friday’s national broadcast against Ole Miss by the Fox Soccer Channel. The Mississippi State game will be shown on CSS and the Florida game will be shown on SUN Sports. The Tennessee and LSU matches will both be broadcast on ESPNU.

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 six assists already on the season – three coming on game-winning goals – Grimsley moves to No. 2 on the South Carolina all-time list with 19 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 now holds the freshman (6), sophomore (7) and junior (6) records for single-season assists.

Freshman Danielle Au has scored a goal in four of South Carolina last six games, including hitting the game-winning goals against Furman and Wake Forest. Au’s game-winner against Wake Forest continued her record trend as she became just the second Gamecock freshman to ever hit a game-winning goal to defeat a ranked opponent. The only other was Mindy Sanders who score the game-winner in a 3-2 win against No. 9 Clemson (Sept. 18, 1996), the first game against a ranked opponent in South Carolina history.

Sophomore Christine Watts played as Carolina’s first person off the bench last season as a backup midfielder. This season, Watts has been asked to play a new role as the team’s starting right back, and the transition has been seamless. She has already earned four assists from her new position with two of those assists coming on game-winning goals.

After struggling to put the ball in the net for much of the season, South Carolina emerged for five goals in a 5-1 victory at Kentucky. The team scored four goals in an eight-minute span in the second half, a feat the Gamecocks hadn’t accomplished against an SEC opponent since scoring four goals in each half of an 8-1 victory against LSU on Sept. 26, 1999. Carolina hadn’t scored five total goals against an SEC opponent since defeating Auburn on the road on Sept. 20, 1998 by an identical 5-1 score.

South Carolina hits the road for two games in the Yellowhammer State as the team takes on Auburn and Alabama for a Friday-Sunday tilt. The Gamecocks have yet to lose a road game this year and will look for crucial points after going 0-2-0 on this trip in 2008.