Gamecocks Fall To No. 2 SMU, 2-1|
Oct. 24, 2007
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In front of a strong crowd on a wet and dreary evening at Stone Stadium, the South Carolina men's soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to Conference USA foe and second-ranked SMU. Carolina falls to 8-5-1, 2-2-1 C-USA with the loss, while the Mustangs improve to 10-2-2, with a 5-0-1 mark in league action. Fans and the entire Gamecock community enjoyed a special celebration at halftime, commemorating USC head coach Mark Berson's 30 years of success at the helm of the men's soccer program.
"I'd first like to say thank you to the entire athletic department and the Carolina community for a really wonderful recognition for me and my family at halftime today," Berson commented. "I'll always remember this. One of the reasons I've been at South Carolina all these years is the tremendous support and love that our fans have. I look forward to coaching here for many years to come."
SMU posted a strong offensive performance in the match, managing 20 shots, including six on goal, while Carolina tallied four shots. Sophomore midfielder Jeff Scannella scored the lone Gamecock goal on a penalty kick in the 89th minute. The goal marked his fifth of the season, tying him with injured freshman forward Sam Arthur for a team high. SMU's Richard Oliva and Bruno Guarda each contributed one goal in the victory.
Defensively for the Gamecocks, freshman netminder Jimmy Maurer collected four saves, while SMU counterpart Steve Sandbo tallied one save in goal.
"Credit SMU tonight, they played very well," Berson said. "I thought our guys came out in the first 15 minutes and played very well; we created some good opportunities and showed good composure on the ball. I thought we showed tremendous character in battling back and getting a late goal. We're a young team and we're going to learn from all of these experiences. We need to get ready for our next challenge against Marshall on Saturday."
The teams battled to a scoreless tie at the half, but SMU marked the scoreboard early in the second when Oliva connected on a pass from Jeff Harwell for the 1-0 advantage. SMU added a goal in the 80th minute on a tally by Guarda for a convincing 2-0 upperhand.
Carolina continued to battle the remainder of the match and capitalized in the 89th minute on a penalty kick opportunity drawn by freshman forward Mike Lindsey. Scannella placed a ball opposite of a diving Sandbo into the left side of the net, pulling the Gamecocks within one at 2-1 with just one minute remaining. Carolina failed to even the match in the final seconds, as SMU closed the 2-1 conference victory.
The athletic department and South Carolina men's soccer team celebrated the coaching success of Berson in a special halftime presentation. The team and department presented Berson with a South Carolina jersey with his name and the number 30 imprinted on the back, signifying his 30th season at the helm of the Gamecock program. The only coach in school history, Berson has led USC to a 399-153-47 record, two conference championships and 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Final Four berths and one trip to the NCAA Championship Game. One of the most well-respected and celebrated coaches in collegiate history, Berson has mentored over 40 student-athletes who have been drafted into various levels of professional soccer. He has directed 13 student-athletes to All-America recognition, coached three National Goalkeepers of the Year, and is one of just 11 Division I coaches all-time to reach the 400 win milestone for his career.
South Carolina continues Conference USA action when it entertains Marshall on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Stone Stadium. (Please note, the game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. but was moved to 5 p.m. to avoid conflict with the South Carolina football game at Tennessee).