Women’s soccer head coach Shelley Smith was named SEC Coach of the Year and senior defender Blakely Mattern was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the SEC announced today. 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 was tabbed SEC Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The Simpsonville, S.C., native owns a 3.985 grade point average in International Business and is a three-time first team CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selection.
Four Gamecocks received all-conference honors as Mattern and Kayla Grimsley were named First Team All-SEC (both unanimous selections) and Samantha Diaz-Matosas and Kim Miller were Second Team All-SEC.
The Gamecocks face Georgia on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
The big news from this past weekend was South Carolina’s women’s soccer team defeating the Mexican national team 2-0 in Greenville, SC at the MeSA Soccer Complex. If you followed The Editor’s Twitter (@SpursUpBlog), you were able to stay updated on the game. See video highlights of the event here and read the game recap here. Click here for a photo gallery from the game – I love the photo of Cocky with the sombrero. Here’s a few additional thoughts from the game.
- The crowd: What an experience for the women’s soccer team – nearly 3,000 fans gathered onto the hillside and temporary bleachers to see some quality soccer. Despite seeing their team trail for much of the match, the Mexican fans (clearly in the majority) made their voices heard and created a unique atmosphere.”What a way to start the season – this environment and atmosphere was awesome,” said Gamecock defender Blakely Mattern. “This isn’t something that we’ll face playing on the road in the SEC this season.””When Mexico comes to this country, they have a great outpouring of fans, and CESA [Carolina Elite Soccer Academy] did a wonderful job of promoting it,” said Gamecock women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith. “It was definitely exciting to have a different feel to the event than we’ll have in any home or road game this season.”
- How did South Carolina end up playing Mexico? I spoke with Andrew Hyslop, co-director of CESA after the game about how the game came together. “South Carolina contacted me about bringing some of our players to watch a game if they played Mexico there and I thought we could get good attendance for it if we brought it to Greenville. Six South Carolina players have played in our program and with the Hispanic population here, it was a no-brainer to try to bring it here. When you bring in a national team like Mexico, you’re going to get a passionate group of Mexican fans and in our state, you’re always going to get a passionate group of Gamecock fans as well.”
- Love the vuvuzela: If you followed any of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s trip to South Africa recently for the Confederations Cup, then you’re familiar with this noisemaker:
The horn, known as a vuvuzela, makes a loud, buzzing sound and is originally from South Africa. (For more on this “instrument,” click here.) Many fans at the game had these horns and it certainly added an international flavor to the match. Unfortunately, due to SEC regulations, artificial noisemakers like the vuvuzela at banned at soccer matches. For a report on the vuvuzela, see below:
Several members of the athletics department helped welcome new South Carolina freshmen students to campus at First Night Carolina on Saturday night. Nearly 3,000 freshmen heard from women’s soccer coach Shelley Smith, men’s soccer coach Mark Berson, women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and men’s basketball coach Darrin Horn as part of the event at Williams-Brice Stadium.
- Coach Berson and Coach Smith introduced their freshmen players to the crowd and encouraged the students to support their teams this season.
- Coach Staley offered Gamecock apparel to the first ten people who tweeted “First Night Carolina” to her Twitter page.
- Coach Horn arrived in a Garnet Army t-shirt and talked about the student section at basketball. He also left with the quote of the night: “This ain’t your daddy’s Carolina… this Carolina doesn’t lose at home!”
Students also received information about the new Student Rewards program – a way to earn points for Under Armour merchandise just for attending Gamecock events. Click here for more info on the rewards program.
- Men’s soccer opened preseason practice today on a very rainy morning. Coach Mark Berson was pleased with the first day’s efforts.
- The SEC announced the ESPNU volleyball television schedule today and the Gamecocks have a primetime home match at 7 p.m. on October 7th against defending SEC champion Florida. Coach Ben Somera spoke with GamecocksOnline yesterday about how preseason has gone so far.
- Women’s soccer is on their third day of preseason. Here’s Coach Shelley Smith and senior Blakely Mattern talking about Day 1 of the season.
- Football player Eric Norwood was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List today. The award goes to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player. I was reminded today about this great clip from two years ago when Eric was being interviewed by Erin Andrews after the Kentucky win and he still did the “toast” during the alma mater.