COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina hits the road for the final time this season with trips to Kentucky and Alabama. The Gamecocks return to play in the SEC East after hosting two Western Division foes at Stone Stadium last weekend. The Friday night match against the Wildcats will air live on SportSouth at 6:30 p.m (ET). Sunday's tilt with Alabama is slated to begin at 2:00 p.m. (ET).
ON THE HORIZON
South Carolina will host the No. 11 Florida Gators in the regular season finale on October 25. SUN Sports is scheduled to broadcast the 6 p.m. (ET) match on Thursday night.
Kentucky enters the weekend with a 10-5-1 (5-4-1 SEC) record. The Wildcats are coming off their first-ever SEC-weekend road sweep under head coach Jon Lipsitz after defeating Tennessee and Georgia. Sophomore Arin Gilliland leads Kentucky in scoring with 15 points (5g, 5a) with freshman Kelli Hubly also netting a team-high five goals this season as well. The time in goal has been split between junior Kayla King and sophomore Kayla Price. King has started 10 games and is coming off back-to-back shutouts, carrying a 0.81 goals against average for the season.
Entering the weekend games, Alabama has a 7-7-2 overall record, going 2-6-2 in the conference. The Crimson Tide has three players with 15 points or more. Sophomore Pia Rijsdijk leads the team in all three offensive categories with 19 points (7g, 5a). Sophomore Katie Bourgeois' is just behind Rijsdijk with 17 points from 7 goals to go along with three assists. And junior Molly Atherton has tallied 15 points in the season (6g, 3a). Junior Shelby Church has started every game in the net for Alabama and holds a 1.51 goals against average.
GAMECOCK BACKLINE LIMITING OPPONENT'S CHANCES
South Carolina has needed to use a rotating group of players on the backline this season due to injuries throughout the lineup, but in typical Shelley Smith fashion, the squad has been strong in limiting opportunities. In their last five games, the Gamecocks limited Vanderbilt, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Ole Miss to only 17 shots on goal in 470 minutes of action. Vanderbilt only had one shot on frame in the match, Tennessee had four, Georgia had five, LSU only tallied two and Ole Miss registered five.
Six of South Carolina's 16 matches so far this season have gone to overtime, and the Gamecocks are 0-2-4 in those fixtures. The team has tied the program record of six overtime matches set in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 after a 1-1 draw at Vanderbilt last Sunday. Two of Carolina's four losses this season have come in extra time (Minnesota 2-1, Clemson 1-0) while the Gamecocks have yet to notch a golden goal, something that was not a problem in 2011 when South Carolina went 3-1-0 in overtime matches.
CAROLINA VS THE SEC
South Carolina historically has enjoyed greater success against SEC West foes than SEC East foes by the surprising note that the Gamecocks hold the series advantage against all six SEC West schools (not including newly added Texas A&M) but does not have the advantage against any of the SEC East schools. The Gamecocks are 51-23-15 (.657) all-time vs the West with series' against Alabama (10-4-0), Arkansas (9-3-2), Auburn (7-6-3), LSU (9-2-5), Ole Miss (8-4-2) and Mississippi State (7-4-3). In contrast, South Carolina is 22-68-11 (.273) vs SEC East schools.
GILBERT ON TV
Junior Gabrielle Gilbert has proven to be fond of playing on TV with six of her career 15 points coming in televised matches. Gilbert scored a header in the 13th minute at Vanderbilt in a match that was televised by CSS and ESPN3.com. Coincidentally, the last time South Carolina played on CSS, Gilbert hit the game-winning goal via a header from a corner kick.
GAMECOCKS ON TV
South Carolina will appear on a TV a minimum of four times in 2012 with at least one of those games occurring on national TV, marking the sixth-consecutive season that Carolina will play in front of a national audience. Carolina's home matches against Missouri (Sept. 16) and Florida (Oct. 25) will air live on ESPNU and SUN Sports, respectively, and away matches at Vanderbilt (Sept. 30) and Kentucky (Oct. 19) will air on CSS and SportSouth.
The Gamecocks were a perfect 3-0-0 last season in televised games, outscoring opponents 8-2 in those contests.