Nov. 1, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. - The South Carolina men's soccer team (9-6-1, 6-1-0 C-USA), who earned a No. 25 rank in this week's NSCAA Top 25 Poll, earned a thrilling 1-0 double overtime victory at No. 22 UCF (9-4-3, 3-3-1 C-USA) on Tuesday in Conference USA action in Orlando. The win marked the 450th career victory for South Carolina head coach Mark Berson.
The victory propels South Carolina to the top of the C-USA standings with 18 points on a 6-1-0 league record. The Gamecocks have secured a bye in the upcoming C-USA Tournament with the win at UCF.
"I'm really proud of our team tonight. They had a tremendous performance and conference wins on the road are always difficult," South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. "This group showed what they are made of in coming away with a great win in overtime against a good team from UCF.
"As far as the 450th win, that is something I'll always treasure since it belongs to so many players and assistant coaches who have worked with me for so many years. It belongs tonight to the University of South Carolina and our players and I'm very proud of their win. This also belongs to my family, my wife Shauna, and my children Erin and Luke who have been a part of this journey for many years. I couldn't have accomplished any of this without their support."
Berson becomes just the eighth Division I coach all-time to reach the 450-win milestone for his career.
Both teams registered 17 shots in the match, with Carolina holding an 8-6 edge in shots on goal. South Carolina junior defender Eric Martinez netted the first goal of his career, scoring the game winner in the 110th minute on an assist from sophomore forward Bradlee Baladez.
South Carolina redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Alex Long collected his third shutout of the season, playing an outstanding match in goal. Long collected a season high six saves in the win, including two during overtime.
UCF midfielder Steven Lamberta paced the Knights with six shots, including two on goal, while forward A.J. Nelson also tallied two shots on frame. Goalkeeper Sebastian Evers collected seven saves.
Both teams had their offensive chances in the opening half with Lamberta and Baladez posting shot attempts before the 10-minute mark of the match. Long collected saves on three consecutive UCF possessions late in the half, and Evers earned saves on shots by freshman midfielder Emmett Lunceford and sophomore midfielder Chipper Root, but the score held 0-0 at halftime.
South Carolina found an offensive rhythm in the second half, posting seven shots against three by UCF. Sophomore midfielder J.P. Rafferty had a shot blocked and Evers collected a save on an attempt by Mangotic at the 65-minute mark.
Both teams continued to press on the offensive end, as UCF's Matthew Gaskins registered a shot wide of frame in the 89th minute, but the contest would advance to the first of two sudden death overtime sessions with the score knotted at 0-0 at the end of regulation.
UCF held an edge in the first overtime, posting three shots, as Long tallied one save in the set. With the match still scoreless after 100 minutes, the team's readied for the second 10-minute overtime session.
With the clock entering the final minute of play, Baladez sailed a high corner kick into the UCF six-yard box, which was deflected to the feet of Martinez who found the back of the net for the thrilling Gamecock victory.
South Carolina concludes the regular season when it hosts Kentucky on Friday for Senior Night at Stone Stadium. The match will kick off at 6 p.m., with Senior Night festivities set to begin at 5:45 p.m.
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