Nov. 4, 2009
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - South Carolina has earned the fourth seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and will face fifth-seeded Georgia Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 8:30 p.m. in the final quarterfinal match. The SEC Tournament is held at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex in Orange Beach, Ala.
Live stats and a free video stream are available at SECSports.com. CLICK HERE or visit "http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/2009_soccer_championship.aspx" to view the free broadcast.
The matchup marks the second consecutive year that the Gamecocks and Bulldogs will meet in the No. 4/5 quarterfinal pairing. Georgia defeated South Carolina 2-1 in the night match last season.
Georgia defeated South Carolina 2-1 in the regular season matchup on Oct. 16 to give the Gamecocks, ranked fifth in the nation at the time, their first loss of the season. The winner of the South Carolina-Georgia match will face the winner of the Florida-Tennessee match at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6. The SEC Championship is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m.
CAROLINA IN THE SEC TOURNAMENT
South Carolina is advancing to its fourth consecutive SEC Tournament and eighth overall. The Gamecocks are 1-7-1 in the tournament, but the team has advanced to the semifinal round twice in the past three seasons. 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. The match marks the third straight season that Georgia and South Carolina will meet in the tourney. South Carolina has met Florida the most, going 0-3-0 against the Gators. They have also met Georgia (0-2-0), Tennessee (1-1-0) and Vanderbilt (0-1-1).
Georgia enters as the fifth seed after finishing third in the SEC East. Freshman Lauren Eddy was selected as SEC Freshman of the Year and was also a Second Team All-SEC pick. Senior Caroline Simpson was named First Team All-SEC and leads the team with nine goals and five assists for 23 points.
SMITH NAMED SEC COACH OF THE YEAR, FOUR GAMECOCKS EARN ALL-SEC HONORS
South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith was named SEC Coach of the Year, senior Blakely Mattern was named SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year, and four Gamecocks earned All-SEC honors to cap the most successful regular season in program history.
It is the first SEC Coach of the Year honor for Smith, who guided South Carolina to school records for conference (seven) and overall (15) victories this season. The Gamecocks recorded a program-best second place finish in the SEC East and came within one game of winning the overall title.
Mattern and sophomore Kayla Grimsley were two of only four unanimous First Team All-SEC selections. Seniors Kim Miller and Samantha Diaz-Matosas earned their first All-SEC honors after the duo made the second team, as voted by the league's coaches.
For the fourth consecutive year Coach Shelley Smith's squad exceeded preseason expectations by finishing strong in conference 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.
IN THE POLLS
South Carolina stayed put at No. 14 in the Soccer Times poll, moved to No. 15 in the NSCAA coahces poll and comes in at No. 19 by Soccer America, marking the eighth straight week South Carolina has been ranked in the Top 20 of all three polls. Carolina also comes in at No. 17 in the final NCAA RPI report of the regular season, behind only Florida in the SEC.
South Carolina is currently tied for eighth in the nation with 12 shutouts on the year and have allowed only 10 goals during the regular season. Junior goalkeeper Mollie Patton has held the national lead in all three goalkeeping categories for the majority of the season. Going into the SEC tournament, she is fifth in the nation with 12 solo shutouts, ranks eighth nationally with a 0.47 goals against average and is in the Top 25 nationally with a .862 save percentage.
THE BEST SEASON EVER?
With a 15-3-1 record and 7-3-1 SEC record, the Gamecocks have already matched program bests for overall and conference wins in a season. The Gamecocks finished a program-best second in the SEC East and came within one game of the winning the SEC title.
GRIMSLEY JOINS ELITE COMPANY
Sophomore Kayla Grimsley became just the fifth player in South Carolina history to register a 10-goal season after scoring in the 63rd minute against Arkansas last Thursday. Grimsley joins Jennie Ondo, Angela Austin, Debbie Smith and Darcel Mollon as players to reach the plateau.
GETTING THE W'S
South Carolina's 15 wins are tied for fourth in the country behind the top three teams in this week's national polls: Stanford (19), Portland (17) and BYU (16).
Ellen Fahey RETURNS TO THE BACKLINE
Sophomore defender Ellen Fahey will return to her starting spot at centerback after missing the regular season finale at Florida due to a red card she earned in the prior match. Fahey has started all 40 games of her career, but the Gamecocks had to experiment with a new lineup against the Gators with senior midfielder Lindsay Small playing on the backline and sophomore midfielder Kira Campbell earning Small's midfield spot.