COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina has earned the No. 2 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and will face seventh-seeded Kentucky in Wednesday's opener on Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. (ET). The SEC Tournament is held at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex in Orange Beach, Ala.
South Carolina defeated Kentucky 5-1 at Lexington in the regular season for the team's first SEC win of the year. The winner of the South Carolina-Kentucky match will face the winner of the LSU-Tennessee match at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5. The SEC Championship is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 7 at 3 p.m.
THE SEC'S STINGIEST DEFENSE
Prior to the Florida game, South Carolina's backline has limited 11 consecutive opponents to four shots on goal or less, a streak that included six road games, five home games and 10 of 11 SEC opponents. 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.
CAROLINA IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
South Carolina is advancing to its fifth consecutive SEC Tournament and ninth overall. The Gamecocks are 3-7-2 in the tournament, but the team has advanced to the semifinal round three times in the past four seasons, including last year's run to the program's first SEC Championship. South Carolina had a draw against Vanderbilt in 2006 leading to a 4-3 decision in penalty kicks. The Gamecocks then won their first tournament match in 2007 with a 2-0 win against Tennessee. In 2009, the Gamecocks defeated Georgia (3-2) and Florida (1-0) before knocking off LSU in penalty kicks (1-1, 8-7 PKs) to win the title. South Carolina has met Florida the most, going 1-3-0 against the Gators. They have also met Georgia (1-2-0), Tennessee (1-1-0), LSU (0-0-1) and Vanderbilt (0-1-1).
Kentucky enters as the seventh seed after defeating Vanderbilt 6-1 Friday night to make their way into the tournament. Senior Laura Novikoff was named Second Team All-SEC, and freshman forward Caitlin Landis landed on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Louisville transfer Kelsey Hunyadi leads the team with eight goals and three assists for 19 points.
GRIMSLEY NAMED OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR TO LEAD FOUR ALL-SEC HONORS
Junior forward Kayla Grimsley was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and four Gamecocks earned All-SEC honors to cap the most successful SEC season in program history.
It is the first SEC Offensive Player of the Year honor in South Carolina history and just the third overall Player of the Year selection (2009: Blakely Mattern, Defensive; 2004: Ashley Kirk, Freshman). Grimsley led the SEC in goals (11), points (31) and game-winning goals (5) while coming in third in assists (9). The Gamecocks recorded a program-best second place finish in the SEC and came within one game of winning the overall title.
Grimsley and senior defender Brittiny Rhoades were selected to the First Team All-SEC list, and junior defender Ellen Fahey was selected to the Second Team. Midfielder Danielle Au was picked for the SEC All-Freshman Team, as voted on by league coaches.
For the fifth consecutive year Shelley Smith's 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. The coaches selected her team 3rd in the East in 2010, and the team finished as the overall SEC runner-up.