COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina hosts No. 11 Florida in the regular season finale Thursday evening in what will serve as Senior Night for the team. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m., but fans are encouraged to arrive early for the Senior Night ceremony to honor the two Gamecocks playing their final games at "The Graveyard" - Dani Henry and Darien Vercillo. The game is slated to be broadcast live on Sun Sports.
Fans attending the match can park in the Athletics Village Parking Garage adjacent to Stone Stadium on Heyward Street.
Should South Carolina win, they are guaranteed a spot in the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., next week. If the Gamecocks tie, then it will need wins by Auburn (against Alabama) and Tennessee (vs. Georgia) plus no more than a six-goal swing in differential if Vanderbilt beats Kentucky to maintain the tiebreaker advantage over the Commodores. A South Carolina loss plus a win by Alabama, Georgia or Vanderbilt pushes the Gamecocks out of the SEC Tournament picture. South Carolina owns the first tiebreaker, head-to-head, with wins over both Alabama and Georgia, and has a seven-goal advantage in differential with Vanderbilt (-5 to -12)
Florida brings a 13-4-1 (10-2-0 SEC) record to Columbia for Thursday's match up. The Gators are coming off weekend road trip where they fell in Friday's match 1-0 to Alabama and bounced back to defeat Vanderbilt 4-0 on Sunday. Four different Gators scored the four second half goals in the victory. Despite missing three games this season, Erika Tymrak leads the team with 16 points (5g, 6a). Senior defender Jo Dragotta and senior midfielder McKenzie Barney share the team lead with six goals apiece. In the net, sophomore Taylor Burke has started every game of the year talling four shutouts and carrying a 1.02 goals against average. A Florida win clinches an SEC title for the Gators.
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. During a five-game stretch in conference play, 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. In South Carolina's last match (Oct. 21 vs. Alabama), the Crimson Tide only tallied three shots on frame.
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 52-23-15 (.661) all-time vs the West with series' against Alabama (11-4-0), 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 22-69-11 (.269) 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. This season, South Carolina has not fared as well going 0-2-1 in televised games.