Oct. 15, 2011
By Megan Mabry
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina men's soccer team (6-5-1, 4-1-0 C-USA) defeated Marshall (7-5-1, 3-1-1 C-USA) by a 3-1 score in a matchup between the top two Conference USA teams in league standings at Stone Stadium on Saturday night. The win moved South Carolina into the Conference USA lead with 12 points in league play.
"This team rebounded tonight. I had absolutely no question that they would. There was not one ounce of doubt in my mind that these guys would come out tonight and play extremely well," said South Carolina head coach Mark Berson. "However, Marshall is a very good team and it took a good effort tonight to win the game. I was very pleased with the way that we played. I think our execution can be better. I think we were a little bit sharper against SMU, but tonight we got the win. I was really proud of our guys."
The win marks the fourth time the Gamecocks have come from at least one goal down to win a game this season (High Point, Memphis, Tulsa). Three of those efforts came against conference opponents.
South Carolina held a 16-14 upperhand in shots in the match, while both teams posted seven shots on goal. Sophomore forward Bradlee Baladez tallied four shots, including one goal, while adding two assists in the match. Junior defender Kevin Stam tallied Carolina's first goal of the match, and freshman midfielder Braeden Troyer netted the first game-winning tally of his career. Freshman Niklas Kivinen and senior Vance Benson also collected an assist in the win.
Defensively for South Carolina, redshirt-sophomore netminder Alex Long played a stellar match in goal, collecting five saves.
Marshall was led offensively by junior forward Tom Jackson, who tallied the Thundering Herd's goal in the match. Sophomore midfielder Matt Risher contributed four shots, including three on goal. Goalkeeper Daniel Withrow collected four saves.
In the 27th minute, Marshall struck first when Jackson placed a ball in the upper left corner of the net from 20 yards out on a direct free kick. Jackson sailed a chip over the wall of defenders and Long for the 1-0 score.
South Carolina evened the game just two minutes later on a corner kick opportunity at the opposite end. Stam netted his first goal of the season on a header from three yards out off the cross from Baladez to knot the score at 1-1.
The Gamecocks nearly added another goal in the 39th minute when Chipper Root released down the left sideline and switched fields to J.P. Rafferty on the right flank. Rafferty took two touches and fired a hard shot that was saved by Withrow to hold the score. Root was making his first appearance since September 24 after missing three games due to an ankle injury.
Troyer broke the 1-1 tie in the 62nd minute with his fourth goal of the year. Baladez played a through ball to Kivinen who sailed a cross towards Troyer in front of net. Despite the outstretched arms of Withrow, Troyer netted a header to the far post for the 2-1 South Carolina advantage.
The Gamecocks quickly added to their lead. In the 64th minute, South Carolina tacked on another goal to go ahead 3-1. Baladez tallied his team-leading sixth goal of the year on a cross through the six-yard box from Benson for the two-goal lead.
The Thundering Herd attempted to rally in the final minute with two shots on goal, but fell short. Junior defender Eric Martinez saved one shot on the goal line and Long saved another just 10 seconds later, as South Carolina earned the 3-1 C-USA victory.
South Carolina will take a break from league play when on Tuesday night the Gamecocks welcome ACC foe NC State to Stone Stadium at 7 p.m.
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