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Oct. 14, 2010

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By Miquel Jacobs
Media Relations Assistant

South Carolina vs Georgia | Friday, 7 p.m.
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South Carolina vs Tennessee | Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 14 South Carolina returns home for two pivotal SEC East fixtures with No. 20 Georgia and Tennessee coming to Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks lead the SEC standings by three points and will look to keep that buffer with the nationally-ranked Bulldogs coming to town Friday night at 7 p.m. Carolina then hosts Tennessee in a game nationally televised by ESPNU at 3 p.m. Beth Mowins and Cat Whitehill will make the call in that match. Note: The Tennessee match has moved to 3 p.m. on Sunday to accommodate ESPNU.

Junior Kayla Grimsley was named the National Player of the Week after her four-goal performance last weekend to push Carolina to the top of the SEC ladder. She is the third Gamecock to earn National Player of the Week honors behind Lindsay Thorstenson (2007) and Blakely Mattern (2009).

Heading into the weekend, senior goalkeeper Mollie Patton has 30 career solo shutouts at South Carolina. Her 30 shutouts are three 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. Patton played 45 minutes in the7-0 win against Mississippi State, a combined shutout that does not count towards the record.

South Carolina travels to Arkansas for a Thursday night match with the Razorbacks before hosting LSU next Sunday in another game televised nationally by ESPNU. The game between the Gamecocks and Tigers will kickoff at 1 p.m. (a change from the previous 3 p.m. start).

Georgia joins South Carolina as one of two unbeaten teams remaining in SEC play with a 3-0-3 record. Under first year coach Steve Holeman, the Bulldogs have played a grueling schedule that included a draw against then-No. 9 Santa Clara and a tough overtime loss at No. 1 Stanford after leading late in the game. The Bulldogs are led by sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Baker, a Canadian national team member who leads the league in conference play with a sparkling 0.15 goals against average, courtesy of one goal allowed in six matches (600 minutes). With five shutouts in six SEC games, the Bulldogs have developed into a top defense with Kelli Corless and Bailey Powell leading the charge, but points will be at a premium for both teams as they’re also only averaging one goal a match. Freshman Nicole Locandro leads the team with a 5-5-15 line.

Tennessee brings a 4-1-1 conference record into the weekend, a mark that ties Florida for second in the SEC with 13 points. The Lady Vols struggled in the early going of the season with three top 25 teams in the opening five matches, but the team has rebounded in SEC action with wins in all three Friday matches as well as a 3-1 win at Ole Miss last Sunday. Emily Dowd leads the team with six goals for 12 points, and a bevy of players have also contributed at least two goals. Redshirt senior Molly Baird sports a 1.62 goals against average with three shutouts.

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 55-19-11 (.712) and also has the chance to become the first class to advance to the NCAA Tournament all four years.

South Carolina stands firm in the top 15 this week with national rankings of No. 14 by both the NSCAA and Soccer Times to go with a No. 13 ranking by Soccer America. Carolina has also positioned itself as a potential NCAA host site with five games remaining as the No. 8 team in the latest RPI report. Carolina leads all SEC teams in the RPI and has its highest RPI rating since finishing the 2009 season at No. 8 to earn a #2 national seed in the NCAA’s.

THE 10-10-30 CLUB
Junior Kayla Grimsley is one goal and one assist shy of becoming the first Gamecock to join the 10-10-30 club. Grimsley has nine goals and nine assists for 27 points this season, numbers that pushes her to the top of the SEC list in goals, assists, points and game winning goals (4). In just her third season, Grimsley is already No. 2 in the South Carolina record books for career goals (30), assists (22) and points (83).

After struggling to put the ball in the net for much of the non-conference season, South Carolina emerged as an offensive threat in SEC play with 15 unanswered goals in a three-game stretch. Since Kentucky went ahead 1-0 in that match, South Carolina went on a roll with five straight against the Wildcats, three goals against Ole Miss (3-0) and seven goals against Mississippi State (7-0). The Gamecocks posses the SEC’s No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense in all games played.

South Carolina has performed at a perfect level on Sunday afternoon matches, traditionally the toughest day of the week after playing a Friday game. The Gamecocks, 7-0-1 in Sunday matches this year, have outscored opponents 22-3 on Sundays with the lone blemishes coming in a 1-1 tie against Arizona State, a 5-1 win at Kentucky and a 2-1 win at Alabama. Carolina has scored 14 goals in SEC Sunday matches this year. For the record, that means 22 of Carolina’s 32 goals have come on Sundays.