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Oct. 27, 2010

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By Miquel Jacobs
Media Relations Assistant

South Carolina vs Florida | Friday, 7 p.m. (SUN Sports)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 17 South Carolina hosts No. 8 Florida in a 7 p.m. marquee matchup at Stone Stadium that will decide the SEC Regular Season Champion. The Gamecocks and Gators enter with identical 8-1-1 SEC records with Carolina looking for the first overall title in program history and Florida looking for its fifth consecutive overall title. The teams will be co-champions with a draw, but South Carolina will earn the leagues top seed due to tiebreakers.

South Carolina-Florida Game Preview

South Carolina will honor five seniors before the start of the game, so fans are encouraged to arrive early for the celebration. Mollie Patton, Brittiny Rhoades, Brooke Jacobs, Maddy Kill and Maggie Blackwell will each be honored before the game at approximately 6:50 p.m.

The Gamecock women’s soccer coaching staff will give a halftime presentation to the family of Jill Darr Rowell, a former South Carolina student-athlete who lost a 10-month battle to AML Leukemia on April 18, 2010. Her husband, Richard, served as an assistant men’s soccer coach at South Carolina from 1994-2000, and he was also the broadcast voice of men’s and women’s soccer from 2001-05. For more information about Jill Darr Rowell and the presentation, CLICK HERE.

South Carolina’s backline has now limited 11 consecutive opponents to four shots on goal or less, a streak that includes six road games, five home games and all SEC competition. All 11 teams were also limited to 10 total shots or less with the streak dating back to the road victory at then-No. 22 Wake Forest in the non-conference finale.

South Carolina next travels to Orange Beach, Ala., to compete in the 2010 SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament. The Gamecocks won last year’s tournament by advancing against Georgia in the quarterfinal (3-2), Florida in the semifinal (1-0) and LSU in the final (1-1, 8-7 on PKs). The Gamecocks will enter as either the No. 1 (win or draw Friday) or No. 2 seed (loss Friday).

Florida enters Friday’s matchup with an identical 8-1-1 SEC record and nearly identical 14-2-2 overall record. The Gators are searching for their fifth consecutive SEC regular season crown and have used a balanced attack to try and reach that goal. Junior Tahnai Annis (27 pts) and sophomore McKenzie Barney (23 pts) lead the team with 10 goals apiece, tied for second in the SEC behind Carolina’s Kayla Grimsley (11). Three other players also have double-digit points in Erika Tymrack (17 pts), Taylor Travis (16 pts) and Lindsay Thompson (12 pts). Senior Katie Fraine sports a 0.67 goals against average with seven shutouts in goal.

Three of the last four games at Stone Stadium between Florida and South Carolina have gone to overtime, the exception being the 2008 finale that the Gators won 1-0 in a game broadcast nationally on the Fox Soccer Channel. In 2006, the team’s played to a 1-1 tie. Florida took a 2-1 overtime victory in 2004, and the Gamecocks took a 1-0 overtime victory in 2002. Florida leads the all-time series at 17-2-1, but the Gamecocks won the last meeting between the two schools with a 1-0 win in the SEC Tournament semifinals last year.

THE 10-10-30 CLUB
Junior Kayla Grimsley is one assist shy of becoming the first Gamecock to join the 10-10-30 club. Grimsley has 11 goals and nine assists for 31 points this season, numbers that pushes her to the top of the SEC list in goals, assists, points and game winning goals (5). In just her third season, Grimsley is already No. 2 in the South Carolina record books for career goals (32), assists (22) and points (86).

In South Carolina’s 14 wins, nine different players have hit the game-winning goal. Junior Kayla Grimsley leads the team and SEC with five GWG’s, and freshman Danielle Au is the only other player with more than one after notching two game-winners. Seven other players have each scored the deciding goal for South Carolina, a mix of four defenders and three midfielders.

For the fourth consecutive year Shelley Smith’s 2009 squad exceeded preseason expectations by finishing strong in SEC play. Picked by the coaches to finish last in 2006, the Gamecocks earned fifth in the Eastern division. Picked to finish last in the East in the 2007 SEC Preseason poll, the Gamecocks tied a program record for wins en route to a fourth place division finish. Carolina was picked fourth in the 2008 preseason poll and again improved in the standings with a third place finish in the Eastern division. Coach Smith’s team was again picked fourth in 2009 and responded with an SEC East runner-up finish that earned her SEC Coach of the Year honors.

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 nine assists already on the season – three coming on game-winning goals – Grimsley moves to No. 2 on the South Carolina all-time list with 22 in her career, behind the 24 put up by Mindy Sanders from 1996-99. Already in the Carolina top two in nearly every offensive category (including goals, assists and points), Grimsley now holds the freshman (6), sophomore (7) and junior (9) records for single-season assists. She’s currently No. 17 in the NCAA this year in assists.

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. South Carolina is currently a perfect 4-0 on TV this season, including the 3-0 win against Ole Miss (FSC), 7-0 win against Mississippi State (CSS), 2-1 win against Tennessee (ESPNU) and 1-0 win against LSU (ESPNU). Friday’s Florida game will be shown on SUN Sports.

South Carolina stands firm in the top 20 this week with national rankings of No. 17 by the NSCAA and No. 13 by Soccer Times. Carolina has also positioned itself as a potential NCAA host site with one games remaining as the No. 18 team in the latest RPI report. Carolina is second to only Florida in the SEC in the RPI report and is looking to host the NCAA’s for the second consecutive year.

The 2009 senior class left Columbia as the winningest senior class in program history, but the 2010 class took over that distinction after Sunday’s win against Tennessee. The Class of `09 held a 55-23-14 (.674) record, but the Class of `10 currently claims a career record of 58-20-11 (.713) and has the chance to become the first class to advance to the NCAA Tournament all four years.

Heading into the weekend, senior Mollie Patton sits sixth in the nation with nine solo shutouts. A Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award nominee, Patton’s 31 career shutouts leaves her two shy of tying the all-time SEC record of 33 set by Auburn’s Megan Rivera (2002-04). She is tied for No. 2 on the list of active goalkeepers with 31 career shutouts behind West Virginia’s Kerri Butler (39).

Two Gamecocks find themselves among the nation’s top 25 in various statistics as we hit the end of the season. Junior Kayla Grimsley has proven to be one of the top distributionists in the country at No. 17 (9 assists) in the NCAA in assists. Grimsley is also 11th in the NCAA in points at 31. Senior goalkeeper Mollie Patton sits sixth in the nation in shutouts at 9 despite not earning a solo shutout in a 7-0 win against Mississippi State that saw three goalkeepers play. Patton is also 17th in the nation in goals against average (0.61).

South Carolina has been nearly unstoppable at Stone Stadium the past three seasons, posting a 40-6-6 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 losses to Louisville, Minnesota and Georgia this season.