Oct. 3, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The 15th-ranked South Carolina men's soccer team rallied from two goals down to capture a 3-2 victory over Gardner-Webb on Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium. Junior defender Josh Alcala netted two goals to lead the Gamecocks. Carolina has won three straight matches and owns a 7-1-1 record on the season. Gardner-Webb fell to 2-8-0 with the loss.
"This game was a tale of two halves," South Carolina coach Mark Berson said. "We were not up to par in the first half, but we really elevated our game and took control in the second half. Gardner-Webb struck early and it's extremely difficult to come back from two goals down, but we dug in and got the result. This team showed it has some character and grit."
Despite controlling possession of the ball and out-shooting Gardner-Webb, 9-3, South Carolina wasn't the first team to score. Brian Wetzel's offering from just outside the 18-yard box on the right side of the field curved into the upper left corner of the goal at the 37:10 mark to put the Bulldogs on top, 1-0. Wetzel's third goal of the season, which was assisted by Darnell Carroll, came on Gardner Webb's second shot of the match.
Less than four minutes later, the Bulldogs' struck again and this time it was Carroll who scored the goal. Carroll drove the ball into the box and after momentarily losing possession, collected the ball and slipped it past goalkeeper Brad Guzan and into the lower right corner of the goal.
For the second straight match, South Carolina found itself facing a halftime deficit.
The Gamecocks came out with renewed energy and intensity to start the second half. With Gardner-Webb content to play defense, USC applied pressure immediately, launching six shots, and forcing Bulldog goalie Tyler Kettering to make a pair saves in the first five minutes of play.
Finally, USC broke through at 71:16. Gardner Webb brought down a Carolina player inside the 18-yard box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Gamecocks. Junior captain Eric Szeszycki drilled it into the back of the net, converting his second PK in as many attempts this season.
South Carolina continued to fight, but its second goal did not come until the 87:47 mark. Szeszycki rifled a shot from about 18-yards out and Kettering knocked the ball down, but was unable to contain it. Alcala was there for the rebound and he kicked it in from six yards out to tie the match.
Alcala and Gamecocks weren't finished yet. With just over a minute left to play in regulation, Alcala played give and go with junior forward Ryan Deter before slipping a shot past Kettering for the 3-2, final advantage.
"After a tough first half, Josh turned his game up a notch and became a major factor," Berson said. "We need that from him every match and today he delivered."
Alcala became USC's scoring leader totaling nine points, on three goals and three assists this season.
South Carolina registered a season-high 34 shots, including 25 in the second half, while limiting the Bulldogs to just six. Sophomore forward Mike Sambursky led the Gamecocks with nine shots. USC also had eight corner kicks and gave up none. Kettering made 11 saves for Gardner-Webb and Guzan finished with one.
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