Men's Soccer Earns 2-1 Win Over No. 21 Charlotte In Home Opener
Sept. 6, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina men's soccer team (1-2-0) earned a 2-1 win over No. 21 Charlotte (2-1-0) on Tuesday night in the 2011 home opener at Stone Stadium in Columbia. Senior captain Vance Benson earned the game winner for Carolina, the first of his career.
"(Stephen Morrissey and Vance Benson) have been leaders at practice and leaders in training," Gamecock head coach Mark Berson said. "I'm really proud of the focus and the effort of the guys. They stuck to their guns, did what they need to do and made things happen. Charlotte is a very good team. Charlotte is a team that I think will be in the top 20 RPI at the end of the year. They have a veteran team and a really good team. Tonight they had a lot of the ball, but we were willing to give them a little bit of the ball. They definitely did some great things in the attack and had us on our heals in little stretches, but I was proud of what we did as far as having an opportunity to take advantage of the win tonight."
Charlotte held a 17-7 upperhand in shots in the match, including a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal. The Gamecocks were led by Benson with two shots, including the game winner, while he also collected his first assist of the season. Senior captain Stephen Morrissey also tallied his first goal of the season, while junior defender Mike Mangotic collected his first assist of the 2011 campaign.
On the offensive end, Charlotte was led by sophomore midfielder Aidan Kirkbride and junior midfielder Donnie Smith with four shots each. Smith added the lone 49ers goal in the match.
In net for Carolina, redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Alex Long earned his first college win with three saves in the match. Charlotte counterpart Klay Davis collected one save.
South Carolina was the first to mark the scoreboard very early in the contest. Mangotic sailed a long throw-in deep into the 49ers six-yard box where Benson had an attempt on frame before Morrissey knocked in the rebound for the 1-0 Carolina lead in the fifth minute.
Both teams had their offensive chances through the early part of the half. Junior defender Eric Martinez blocked a shot by Smith just minutes after the Carolina goal, and South Carolina sophomore midfielder Bradlee Baladez had a shot go wide in the 30th minute.
Smith scored the equalizer in the 33rd minute on an unassisted tally. After collecting the ball at the top of the Gamecock 18-yard box, Smith raced towards goal and hit a low strike just inside the near post past Long to knot the score at 1-1.
South Carolina took advantage of the restart, scoring just 30 seconds after the Charlotte tally on Benson's first goal of the season and of his career. Benson collected a cross 12 yards from frame and sent a high strike over Davis for the eventual game winner.
The 2-1 score held through halftime and into the second half. Charlotte was awarded five corner kick opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the half, but Long and the Gamecock defensive line only allowed three shots during the stretch.
Gamecock freshman midfielder Emmett Lunceford nearly pushed the Gamecock lead to two goals with 17 minutes remaining. Lunceford hit a high volley 35 yards out from goal, but the strike caught the top of the crossbar and was cleared by the 49ers.
Long collected his third save of the match on a diving save with just under four minutes to go, and the Gamecocks were able to hold strong for the 2-1 non-conference victory.
South Carolina continues non-conference action when it travels to face Dartmouth and Bradley at the Dartmouth Classic this weekend. The Gamecocks begin tournament play with a 7:30 p.m. ET matchup with Dartmouth on Friday.