COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 22 South Carolina travels to No. 18 Florida for a Friday night rivalry match that will determine the SEC Overall Champion. The Gamecocks have already clinched a share of the SEC overall and east division titles, but a victory by Florida would have the teams finish as co-champions. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will air live on FS Florida.
SEC TITLE SCENARIOS - THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR SEC IS DECIDED BY SC-UF MATCH
South Carolina win or draw makes SC sole champions and No. 1 seed
Florida win and LSU loss to Arkansas gives Florida No. 1 seed and co-champion title
Florida win and LSU win gives SC No. 1 seed, and makes SC-UF-LSU all co-champions
ON THE HORIZON
South Carolina next travels to Orange Beach, Ala., to compete in the 2011 SEC Women's Soccer Tournament. The Gamecocks have advanced to the championship match each of the last two seasons, taking the title in 2009 and finishing as runner-up in 2010. The Gamecocks will enter as either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, depending on Friday's results.
Florida enters the matchup needing a victory to earn the title of co-champions with the Gamecocks with a 7-3-0 record. The Gators fell to LSU, 1-0, Sunday for their first SEC home loss since the 2006 season and only fourth in program history. Florida is led by junior Erika Tymrak who has 11 goals and five assists for 27 points. Freshmen Annie Speese (7g, 6a, 20p) and Havana Solaun (6g, 6a, 18p) both also have scored double-digit points. Freshman Taylor Burke has compiled a 0.87 goals against average with 24 saves and six shutouts in goal.
Florida leads the all-time series 19-2-1, including a pair of 1-0 wins last season. However, four of the last five matches have gone to the wire with 1-0 decisions four times since 2008. Carolina last defeated Florida by a 1-0 score in the 2009 SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks have not scored in Gainesville since dropping a 5-2 decision in the 1997 season.
GRIMSLEY HITS ANOTHER MILESTONE
Senior Kayla Grimsley became South Carolina's all-time points scorer with a goal and assist against Arkansas last Sunday, surpassing a 12-year old record held by Jennie Ondo (1996-99). Grimsley now has a stat line of 42 goals and 32 assists for 116 points in 91 career games.
Grimsley is the only active player in the SEC with over 100 career points and is seventh on the NCAA active career points list. She's the only active player in the NCAA with 40 goals and 30 assists.
For the sixth consecutive year Coach Shelley Smith's 2011 squad exceeded preseason expectations by finishing strong in conference play. Picked to finish last in the East in the 2007 SEC Preseason poll, the Gamecocks tied a then-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. Last season's team was picked third in the East but won a program record eight SEC games to claim second overall in the league.
Actual Finish (East)
Actual Finish (Overall)
*Guaranteed at least a share of the SEC title heading into Friday
SOUTH CAROLINA STREAKING
Since dropping a 1-0 match to Kentucky on Sept. 30, South Carolina has been on a tear with a seven-match winning streak in which they have outscored opponents 21-4. All but one of those wins have been by multiple goals, and in the other six the team scored at least three goals.
The current seven-match winning streak in conference play is the longest in program history, surpassing the five straight SEC wins the team posted in 2010. It also bests the previous SEC unbeaten streaks done in both 2009 and 2010.
SENIOR CLASS SET THE BAR HIGH
The 2010 senior class left Columbia as the winningest senior class in program history, but the eight-member 2011 class can claim that distinction with another solid year. The Class of `10 held a 59-23-13 (.689) record, the most wins and best win-percentage for a South Carolina senior class and was the first to advance to the NCAA Tournament all four years. The Class of `11 currently claims a career record of 59-22-10 (.703) and has a chance to set the new record. The class is 17th in the nation and second in the SEC for total victories over the last four seasons.
WHITNEY FALLS TO INJURY
Freshman defender Ali Whitney went down at the start of the second half against Ole Miss to a leg injury that will have the starting left back out for the remainder of the regular season. She started 14 of her 17 games at left back and was a threat with her deep throw-ins and accurate corner kicks. At LSU, the team reorganized the backline in moving junior Dani Henry from right back to left back, moving freshman Christa Neary from center back to right back, and inserting freshman Andie Romness at center back alongside Ellen Fahey. Senior Ali Glemser and redshirt freshman Lauren Hyden are candidates to earn added minutes in Whitney's place.
THE KG-KR CONNECTION
Senior Kayla Grimsley took sole possession of the program record for career assists in Carolina's win at then-No. 11 Tennessee after earning her 25th career assist on Kortney Rhoades's golden goal. Grimsley passes the record of 24 set by Mindy Sanders from 1996-99, a record that has held strong for 12 seasons. The connection with Rhoades is a strong one as Grimsley previously tied the record against UNC Wilmington on a goal scored by Rhoades, her best friend.
The two connected for a third time this season against Alabama to cap a three-assist game for Grimsley, tying the school record for single-game assists with the mark set by Sanders (9/19/99 & 9/26/99) and Happy Payne (9/13/96).
The duo last combined in Sunday's 3-1 win against Arkansas on Grimsley's second half goal that gave made her South Carolina's all-time points leader at 116 career points. Rhoades assisted on Grimsley's goal that broke Jennie Ondo's record of 115 career points set from 1996-99, a record that - like the assist record - has held strong for 12 seasons.
Defense has been the calling card for Shelley Smith's Gamecocks, and the 2011 season has continued that character trait despite the abundance of youth in the regular rotation. South Carolina has posted shutouts in eight of its 14 wins and leads the SEC with 43 goals against, a 0.72 goals against average and an 83.5 save percentage.
GAMECOCKS ON TV
South Carolina will appear on a TV a minimum of three times in 2011 with at least one of those games occurring on national TV, marking the fifth consecutive season that Carolina will play in front of a national audience. The Gamecocks defeated Vanderbilt 3-0 earlier this season on ESPNU and defeated No. 22 Auburn 3-1 last Sunday on CSS. The Florida game in Gainesville will be shown on FS Florida. The Gamecocks are 8-6-1 on TV since the 2007 season.
MORE ON THE BACKLINE
Senior Ellen Fahey (left center back) and redshirt junior Dani Henry (right back) have both been named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week as the leaders of the backline that has limited six of 10 SEC opponents to four shots on goal or less. In SEC play, the Gamecocks have allowed an SEC-low 21 points, and South Carolina is the only team that has not allowed two goals in a game more than once in conference play.
D'ANGELO MAKES AN IMPACT
Freshman goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo ranks 36th in the country in goals against average at 0.75 and is 3rd among the nation's freshmen in the category, and she is also 8th among the nation's freshmen in save percentage at .829, but it's the intangibles that has the national media paying attention. The Canadian international ranks 1st in the SEC in both goals against average and save percentage in conference games, and she has single-handedly kept South Carolina in games with more than a dozen "how did she do that" saves that had "All White Kit's" blogger Chris Henderson write "(D'Angelo) should be one of the favorites for freshman All-America honors and looks like rounding into one of the SEC's best."