Sept. 12, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The South Carolina men's soccer team (2-3-1) suffered a 3-2, double-overtime loss, on the road at No. 5 Charlotte (5-0-1) in non-conference action on Wednesday night. It was South Carolina's second road contest against a top five opponent in the last six days.
"The difference tonight was that we came from behind twice," South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. "I was very proud of our effort tonight. When you get at the point of the game when it's a golden goal situation, that's just the way things happen sometimes. Whoever makes the first play wins the game. I give Charlotte credit. (Donnie) Smith came through and hit a nice shot. We had a number of good chances in the game. I thought it was a very hard-fought, even contest. I give our guys a lot of credit for battling back twice, on the road, against a top five team."
Charlotte held a 21-11 advantage in shots, including a 10-6 upperhand in shots on goal. South Carolina junior striker Bradlee Baladez led Carolina with four shots, while scoring both Carolina goals. Sophomore midfielder Braeden Troyer added an assist. The 49ers were led by forward Giuseppe Gentile with five shots and an assist, while Jennings Rex, Anthony Perez and Donnie Smith all scored goals, with Smith posting the game winner.
South Carolina netminder Alex Long played a stellar match in net, posting seven saves in the contest. Charlotte counterpart Klay Davis collected four saves.
The match was a back and forth battle from the start. Ten minutes into the game Long was forced to make a stellar save on a shot by Gentile. The Carolina netminder left his line to halt a threat from the 49ers, and returned to goal, saving a hard left-footed attempt towards the far post from Gentile.
Long made another diving save on a strike from Gentile in the 19th minute, but Charlotte collected the loose ball and scored on the result, as Rex earned the tally on a header crossed from Nick Barnhorst for the 1-0 Charlotte advantage.
On the kick-off following the 49ers tally, South Carolina raced down the field and was awarded a penalty kick after a hard foul from Charlotte within its 18-yard box. Baladez stepped to the PK mark, and sent a well-placed strike to the left of frame to tie the contest at 1-1 in the 20th minute.
The tie score held through halftime. Long opened the half with another amazing save, kicking away an attempt off the foot of Smith from close range six minutes into the half.
Charlotte would push its lead to 2-1 with just more than 23 minutes remaining in the second half on the tally from Perez. South Carolina looked to counter once again, as Davis collected a save on a strike from midfielder Asa Kryst two minutes after the 49ers goal.
It took just eight minutes before Baladez tallied his second equalizer in the 75th minute. Troyer sent a shot from 30 yards out towards frame, which deflected off a 49ers defender to the feet of Baladez, who scored on a strike to the far post.
The South Carolina defensive line held strong through the final minutes of regulation. The Gamecocks drew a free-kick opportunity with just 12 seconds remaining in the contest on the Charlotte side of the field, but the 49ers were able to clear the attack and the match advanced to overtime.
In the first extra session, Carolina's best chance at frame came on a long attempt from Stephen Anderson with three minutes remaining, which Davis saved for a Carolina corner kick. Baladez crossed the corner, which bounced off the head of Kevin Stam and Kryst before finding the hands of the Charlotte goalkeeper.
The tie score held through the first overtime, sending the contest into a final 10-minute OT session.
Charlotte scored the game winner in the 108th minute. Smith hit a strike to the far netting, just past the out-stretched hands of Long, which hit off the post and into the back of the net for the deciding 3-2 score.
South Carolina continues non-conference action when it hosts intrastate rival Clemson next Tuesday, Sept. 18. Match time is set for 7 p.m. Stay tuned to GamecocksOnline.com for game information and promotions for the event.
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