Aug. 25, 2017
Men's Soccer vs. USC Upstate
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina opened its 2017 season with a 2-1 victory over USC Upstate on Friday night. A huge crowd of 5,048 fans packed Stone Stadium for the season opener. Sophomore striker Luca Mayr (65') and true freshman midfielder Petter Soelberg (30') each tallied goals for the Gamecocks.
The Spartans jumped out of the gates quickly, scoring a goal on a set piece off a corner kick in the second minute of the match. Cam Philpot headed in the corner to the far post from just outside the goal that was played in by Calon Minors. Carolina regrouped after the quick score and controlled the pace and tempo for much of the remainder of the first half.
Luca Mayr and Keegan Kullby each ripped shots from deep in the 18th minute when the Gamecocks began to turn the tide and win the possession battle. Carolina kept pushing the tempo as Mayr unloaded another powerful left-footed strike at the Upstate keeper in the 25th minute.
The Gamecocks finally found pay dirt when Mayr played a ball back to the middle, right of goal before he went out of bounds. That ball was deflected by a diving Santiago Restrepo to freshman Justin Sukow. He then made an easy touch pass to a wide-open Petter Soleberg, who finished for his first career goal, which tied the score 1-1 where it remain until halftime.
Carolina remained on the offensive in the second half, sticking to its game plan and continuing to control possession.
Freshman forward Benjamin Gilligan drew a foul inside the box midway through the second half in the 65th minute. The Gamecocks were awarded a penalty kick. Mayr's number was called and he ripped a dart past the outstretched arms of Restrepo to put Carolina in front 2-1.
The Spartans had a few chances late, but All-Conference USA goalkeeper William made two big stops in tough situations down the stretch. In the 81st minute, Pyle skied to punch a high-arching shot off a free kick over the goal, preserving the Gamecocks' lead.
"To win the opening game is really important. It gives you something to build on. I think there was a lot of different highs and lows in the match. First of all giving up a goal early is not a positive thing, but when you come back and show the ability to come back that's important." -- South Carolina men's soccer head coach Mark Berson
Soleberg's goal helped swing the momentum back in Carolina's favor just before the half. The tap in score was the breakthrough result after an onslaught of really good chances by the home team.
Seven true freshman saw action for the Gamecocks Friday night in the season-opener. Three other transfer student-athletes also got big time minutes for Carolina. At one point, nine of the 10 position players on the field were all newcomers for the Garnet and Black.
The Gamecocks return home on Monday night to face Mercer at 7 p.m. ET. It'll be a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament opening round game versus the Bears, which Carolina won 1-0 at Stone Stadium.
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