Nov. 8, 2017
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion (C-USA Quarterfinals)
NORFOLK, Va. -- South Carolina (6-9-2, 2-4-2 C-USA) was knocked out of the Conference USA Tournament on Wednesday night after falling 2-0 to second-seeded Old Dominion (10-5-2, 6-2-0 C-USA), the host school. The Monarchs scored twice in the second half, as the Gamecocks were unable to cash in on several quality chances throughout the match.
ODU had some strong counter attacks early on in the game, but Carolina's defense held firm thanks to great on-ball defending by its backline. The Gamecocks had an outstanding chance to open up the scoring in the first half when Aleksander Bjerke Christensson blasted a cross into the box near post. Freshman Ben Gilligan got a touch on it inside the six, but Mertcan Akar was able to deflect it out of bounds.
Carolina would have three more opportunities to score in the final 10 minutes of the half. First Team All-C-USA pick Luca Mayr, who was all over the field for the Gamecocks in the opening 45 minutes, shook loose in the 43rd minute with several cracks at the goal. His shot attempt was blocked out of bounds setting up South Carolina's third corner of the first half. Mayr laced a beautiful ball far post to wide-open Spencer Meschter. The 6-foot-6-inch senior midfielder headed a shot high over the net and the team's went to the locker room scoreless.
The Monarchs tallied their first corner of the game in the 49th minute. It was knocked out of the box by the Gamecock defense, but Hans Kroschwitz corralled it and lofted an uncontested cross to the far post. Tom Wustenberg was able to somehow nick the ball with the back of his head and scored to the opposite post, putting ODU in the lead 1-0 early in the second half.
Carolina had three outstanding chances in the first 45 minutes on its five shots in half one. In the 27th minute, Mayr spied UAB's keeper out of position and lofted a high-arching shot on target, but James Teal was able to punch it over the bar out of bounds. In the 30th minute, it was Mayr again, this time on a free kick from the edge of the 18 towards the end line boundary. He crossed one right in front of the net and Peyton Ericson was able to get a foot on it to send it home, but a UAB defender slid down and was able to clear it off the line.
In the 55th minute, freshman Justin Sukow was able to get a clean look off from 15-yards out after retaining possession off a corner kick by Christoffer Wallander Ianev, but the shot missed wide left. Sukow ripped a shot from deep in the 60th minute after intercepting a pass from around midfield, but again he missed wide. ODU earned another corner in the 63rd minute and took advantage again as the ball was cleared out of the box by Carolina into open space. Jimmy Filerman came up from the Monarchs' backline and laced a dart to the upper right 90 corner of the goal from 35-yards out. He scored as senior keeper William Pyle could do nothing on the perfectly placed shot.
The Gamecocks would have three quality chances down the stretch to cut into the deficit, but would come up just shy as it was a night of missed opportunities for the Garnet and Black.
"That is a tough loss particularly in light of how we have been playing down the stretch. This was a hard-fought even match, but they capitalized on two opportunities and that was the difference tonight. It's really disappointing, but I'm proud of this group." -- South Carolina men's soccer head coach Mark Berson
ODU punched in both goals off deflections from corner kicks.
After no corner kicks in the first half, the Monarchs had five in the game's final 45 minutes.
The Gamecocks will head into the offseason with a bright future ahead of the program. Nine of the team's 11 starters Wednesday night will be back for Carolina in 2018. Overall, 16 letterwinners return for the young team.
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