Gamecocks Host SEC East Rivals Tennessee and Georgia Tennessee comes to Stone Stadium Friday and Georgia visits Sunday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina returns home for the first time in three weeks with SEC East rivals Tennessee and Georgia visiting “The Graveyard” this weekend as teams reach the midway point of the conference season.
The Gamecocks, in search of their first SEC victory of the 2012 season after earning three draws, welcome Tennessee Friday night at 7 p.m. in the “Kick for the Cure” game before Georgia visits Sunday at 1 p.m. Fans are encouraged to wear pink Friday night.
Fans can park in the Athletics Village Parking Garage adjacent to Stone Stadium on Heyward Street. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are currently on sale. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $10 for youth. They can be purchased at GamecocksOnline.com or by calling (800) 4SC-FANS.
ON THE HORIZON
South Carolina stays at Stone Stadium next weekend when SEC West foes LSU and Ole Miss come to town.
Tennessee enters the weekend with an 8-3-2 record and are 3-2-1 in conference play after a split weekend at home. The Lady Vols are led by sophomore goalkeeper Julie Eckel’s 0.55 goals against average and five shutouts. Sophomore Iyana Moore leads the team with 11 points (4g, 3a). Eleven players have scored a goal for the Lady Vols this season, including Moore, Hannah Wilkinson and Amy Harrison with four each. Junior Caroline Brown leads the team with five assists.
Georgia sits one spot in the SEC East above the Gamecocks with a 5-6-2 (1-3-2 SEC) record entering the weekend. Meghan Gibbons and Bella Hartley lead the team with four goals and eight points each, and Carli Shultis has contributed eight of the team’s 13 assists. Ashley Baker sports a 1.26 goals against average to go with three shutouts and 72 saves.
Six of South Carolina’s 12 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.
Shelley Smith is dealing with a squad decimated by injuries for the first time since the 2006 team was forced to deal with mass knocks. The 2012 Gamecocks have already lost two players for the season (Emily Bollinger, Bay Daniel) and have had 11 other players - including five of the six returning starters - miss time or leave games this season due to injury. Only 10 dedicated field players have been without injury - four mids, four forwards and two defenders.
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 50-22-15 (.661) all-time vs the West with series’ against Alabama (10-4-0), Arkansas (9-3-2), Auburn (7-6-3), LSU (8-2-5), Ole Miss (8-3-2) and Mississippi State (7-4-3). In contrast, South Carolina is 21-67-11 (.268) vs SEC East schools.
AU HITS THE BOARD
Junior Danielle Au endured nine matches this season before hitting her first goal of the year in the 70th minute at Arkansas. South Carolina’s leading returning scorer from last season, Au has been plugged as the striker and attacking center mid for the Gamecocks this year and has now scored three goals in three matches after a two-goal outing at Auburn.
GILBERT’S REMAINS FLEXIBLE
Junior Gabrielle Gilbert has been the version of a utility player for South Carolina, starting matches at defender, midfield and forward in her career. The Canadian began her career on the backline, starting her first career match at right back, but earned the starting right wing spot the first eight matches of the 2012 season. With injuries forcing a change in philosophy, Gilbert has once again moved to the backline where she has started three matches at right back before moving to the midfield last Sunday at Vanderbilt. Gilbert currently has contributed one goal and three assists, second-most on the team.
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 Carolina’s most recent game, the Gamecocks limited Vanderbilt to only five shots in 110 minutes. Vanderbilt only had one shot on frame in the match, which unfortunately went into the net to force a 1-1 draw.