Sept. 26, 2017
Men's Soccer at No. 2 Wake Forest
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — South Carolina (4-4-1, 0-1-2 C-USA) gave No. 2 Wake Forest (9-1-0, 3-0-0 ACC) a fight to the wire on Tuesday night, but a late goal in the 89th minute gave the Demon Deacons a 2-1 victory. The Gamecocks led 1-0 at halftime after freshman Petter Soelberg scored a beautiful goal in the game's opening minutes.
Soelberg slid behind the defense early and fellow freshman Justin Sukow fired a gorgeous pass to him right on target. Soelberg's shot snuck through goalkeeper Andreu Cases Mundet's legs as Carolina took the lead 1-0 in the 15th minute.
Wake Forest, one of the nation's top offensive teams, was aggressive in their attacking third of the field early on, but goalkeeper William Pyle made three outstanding saves in the first 16 minutes of the game. The Demon Deacons kept the pressure on, but Carolina's backline held firm and made outstanding play after outstanding play to clear Wake Forest's chances.
Pyle, the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week, finished the first 45 minutes with five saves on six shots by the Demon Deacons. The Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
The lead remained in tact until a questionable call in the 65th minute. Sophomore defender Alek Bjerke Chrsitensson, who played a whale of a game on the backline for Carolina, was battling for position in front of the net and was whistled for a foul. Pyle guessed right on the ensuing penalty kick by Jon Bakero but the shot slid just underneath his reach. Bakero came into the match ranked third in the country in total points with 19 (5G, 9A).
Wake Forest was able to control possession after tying the match, but Carolina's backline continued its stellar play marking every man inside the box -- which in turn made it difficult for the Demon Deacons to get quality shots off. Pyle didn't make his sixth save of the night until the 75th minute.
The Gamecocks had several quick-strike counter attack opportunities in the second half and were unable to finish them off. Ema Twumasi would net the eventual game-winner in the 89th minute far post just passed a sliding Bjerke Christensson.
"Well, I think there are things you can control and things you can't control. We can only focus on things that we can control in the match. Some of the things tonight were pretty overpowering for our team. We played really hard. We had the lead. I think Wake Forest dictated the play for some pretty big stretches, but we also counter punched pretty well. At the end of the day, I think we're learning. I think we're growing. I think we're getting better as a team. Credit Wake Forest -- they're a very, very good team. I'm really proud of our guys. I really couldn't be more proud of the effort they put out. " -- South Carolina men's soccer head coach Mark Berson
Wake Forest's late score in the 89th minute was the difference in the tight, wire-to-wire match.
William Pyle had another outstanding night in goal, matching a single-game career-high with eight saves.
The Gamecocks return home to square off with instate foe Coastal Carolina (3-5-0, 0-1-0 Sun Belt) on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The Chanticleers, an NCAA Tournament team a year ago, were preseason ranked No. 19 in the United Coaches Poll.
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