Gamecocks travel to No. 12 Tennessee and Georgia to open SEC play
Sept. 22, 2011
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By Miquel Jacobs
Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina opens conference play this weekend when the team travels to SEC Eastern Division rivals No. 12 Tennessee and Georgia. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Knoxville Friday night and 2 p.m. in Athens on Sunday.
The game against the Lady Vols marks the third Top-15 team that the Gamecocks have faced this season (#12 Duke, #13 Wake Forest). Tennessee leads the all-time series 11-4-2, but South Carolina has won the last four meetings between the teams. The Gamecocks will look to earn back-to-back wins at Regal Stadium for the first time in progarm history.
Georgia leads the all-time series 12-4-3 against South Carolina with the last Gamecock regular season victory coming in 2006. South Carolina has only won one game in Athens, a 1-0 victory on Oct. 15, 1999, courtesy of a Jennie Ondo goal.
ON THE HORIZON
The Gamecocks return home next week when the team hosts SEC East rivals Kentucky and Vanderbilt at Stone Stadium. The Wildcats and Gamecocks will be the first game of a Friday doubleheader with the South Carolina men's team, and Sunday's match against Vanderbilt will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Tennessee enters the SEC opening weekend with the second-most prolific offense in the league and a top 15 national ranking for the first time since the 2007 season. The team is led by double-digit point scorers Caroline Brown and Emily Dowd. Brown leads the team with seven goals and three assists for 17 points, while Dowd is second with five goals and three assists for 13 points. Junior Kylie Bono has put in three goals and three assists to give the Lady Vols a third target in front of the net in addition to Chelsea Hatcher.
True freshman Julie Eckel leads the SEC in goals against average at 0.51 posting 35 saves and three solo shutouts in the process. The Lady Vols have earned five straight shutouts heading into Friday's match, outscoring opponents 14-0 in that span since losing their only game of the season, 2-1, to then No. 15-UCLA.
Georgia sophomore Alexa Newfield has continued to be a standout on the field with her six goals and four assists for 16 points in non-conference play. Three other Bulldogs have also scored multiple goals on the season including Ashley Miller and Madeline Barker's three tallies.
Junior Ashley Baker has started every game in goal for the Bulldogs and sports a 1.29 goals against average with 27 saves and one solo shutout. Georgia is also on a five-match winning streak having scored 14 goals in their last five games.
GRIMSLEY HITS THE ASSIST RECORD
Senior Kayla Grimsley tied the program record for career assists in Sunday's win against UNC Wilmington after earning her 24th career assist in the second half. Grimsley ties the record set by Mindy Sanders from 1996-99, a record that has held strong for 12 seasons. The assist on Kortney Rhoades's goal in the 58th minute was the first of the season for Grimsley.
GRIMSLEY'S FIRST GOLDEN GOAL IS CAROLINA'S FASTEST
It may be hard to believe for the second-leading scorer in Gamecock history, but senior Kayla Grimsley scored her first career golden goal in last Thursday's win against Charlotte. Her golden goal just 31 seconds into the first overtime period marks the fastest overtime game-winner in program history with the next closest being Kim Miller's winner 3:38 into overtime against Furman in 2008.
D'ANGELO MAKES AN IMPACT
Freshman goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo ranks 33rd in the country in goals against average at 0.391 and is 6th among the nation's freshmen in the category. The Canadian international ranks fifth in the SEC in goals against average* and save percentage heading into the first weekend of conference play. (*Goalkeepers must play 50% of a team's total minutes to be eligible)
GILBERT GOES FOR GOLD
Sophomore Gabrielle Gilbert has proven to be a valuable and flexible player for the Gamecocks this year. After spending the 2010 season as the teams' top backline reserve, Gilbert has expanded that role into one of the top field players in general. The Canadian has seen regular action at forward, midfield and defender this year and will continue to play all three positions.
Defense has been the calling card for Shelley Smith's Gamecocks, and the 2011 season shows early signs of continuing that character trait despite the abundance of youth in the regular rotation. South Carolina has posted shutouts in five of its six wins and is third in the SEC with six goals against and a 0.66 goals against average.
South Carolina enters SEC play next to last in the SEC with only 86 shots (9.5 shots a game), and is the only team averaging less than 10 shots a game. However, the number is lower due to Carolina being selective with their opportunities, with South Carolina ranking second in the league with a 17.4 shot percentage (ratio of goals to shots). Senior Kayla Grimsley is on track to become the first Gamecock to end her career with four seasons shooting over 20 percent. She and Jennie Ondo are the only Gamecocks to have three seasons over the mark.