The South Carolina men's soccer team is set to host its annual Gamecock Classic this weekend in Columbia. All matches will be played at Stone Stadium. Below is the weekend schedule, team information, a video preview with Coach Berson, game notes and video (South Carolina matches only) and live stats information.
COACH BERSON AND CORY BURKARTH PREVIEW August 29, 2012
Carolina Quick Hits
- South Carolina is in its 35th season of varsity soccer in 2012.
- South Carolina head coach Mark Berson is in his 36th season overall and his 35th season as head coach of the Gamecocks. He is assisted by former players Spencer Lewis and Joey Worthen, both in their first season.
- The Gamecocks will play 10 regular-season contests at Stone Stadium this season, including this weekend's Gamecock Classic, a home matchup versus intrastate rival Clemson and four Conference USA contests.
- In exhibition wins vs. Georgia State and Elon, South Carolina scored a combined eight goals, including two each from junior striker Bradlee Baladez, sophomore midfielder Braeden Troyer and junior midfielder J.P. Rafferty. Carolina posted 39 shots combined in the two matches, compared to just 23 shots by opponents (Ga. State 14; Elon 9).
- South Carolina is the reigning Conference USA Co-Regular Season champions, as both the Gamecocks and UAB finished the 2011 league campaign with a 6-1-1 record.
- Carolina made its 20th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament in 2011, earning hosting duties for the first round.
- Seven newcomers join 20 returning players for Carolina in 2011. Six freshmen and one sophomore transfer join Berson's squad this fall.
- R-sophomore midfielder Stephen Anderson scored the first goal of his college career for the game winner in last Friday's season opener vs. College of Charleston. Anderson's tally came in the 73rd minute of play.
- Freshman forward Wesley Eads and junior defender Trevor Hubbard both collected an assist on the game winner from Anderson in last Friday's season opener. It marked the first of Eads' career and the third of Hubbard's career in the Garnet and Black.
- Baladez was selected to the Conference USA Preseason Team, the second-straight season the Mesquite, Texas, native has been honored with selection to the list.
- Baladez and Troyer were both named to the Preseason All Conference USA squad earlier this month published by College Sports Madness, while Baladez was tabbed a Third-Team Preseason All-American by CollegeSoccerNews.com.
NSCAA Preseason Top 25 Poll
Carolina is receiving votes in the most recent NSCAA Top 25 Poll, which was released earlier this week. The Gamecocks sit in 27th place behind only Notre Dame just outside the top 25.
Did You Know?
Reserve defender, freshman Jeffrey Torda's entire family has played a sport at the college level. His father was a golfer at LSU, his mother played basketball at St. Gregory's University, his brother played soccer at Dayton, and his sister played soccer at TCU. Torda is a native of Colleyville, Texas. One of three Texans on the South Carolina roster (Baladez, Hubbard).
A Look At The Gamecock Classic
- Below is a team-by-team look at the field in the 2012 Gamecock Classic.
South Carolina (host), 1-0-0 overall record
The Gamecocks are receiving votes in the Aug. 28 NSCAA Top 25 Poll.
The Gamecocks earned a 1-0 victory in the 2012 season opener vs. intrastate rival College of Charleston last Friday.
South Carolina is led by veteran head coach Mark Berson in his 35th season as the head coach in Columbia. Berson was the 2011 Conference USA Coach of the Year and is among the all-time leaders for Division I victories.
The 2012 season marks the 35th season of varsity soccer at South Carolina.
In last Friday's season opener, R-sophomore midfielder Stephen Anderson earned the game winner, which marked the first goal of his college career. Junior defender Trevor Hubbard and freshman forward Wesley Eads both collected an assist on the goal.
R-junior goalkeeper Alex Long played a stellar match in net for the Gamecocks vs. Charleston, earning the fourth shutout of his career with three saves.
The Gamecocks own a combined record of 5-6-3 all-time against teams that are in the Gamecock Classic field. South Carolina has played Kentucky the most, with that series tied at 4-4-2. The Gamecocks will not face UK at this weekend's event, as the two teams will match up later this regular season in Conference USA play.
South Carolina has faced St. John's twice prior to Friday's meeting. Both previous meetings came at neutral sites, with the Red Storm winning both of those contests during the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
The Gamecocks have faced Northwestern twice all-time, most recently during the 2009 season when the team's battled through double overtime for a scoreless 0-0 tie at NU competing in the Lakeside Classic.
South Carolina was selected to finish first in C-USA in the league's preseason poll earlier this month.
Kentucky Wildcats, 0-1-0 overall record
Kentucky suffered a 4-3 loss at Dayton last Sunday in the 2012 season opener.
The Wildcats are led by first-year head coach Johan Cedergren. Cedergren, a former standout on the field for Cincinnati, was previously the associate head coach at Dartmouth. While a Bearcat, Cedergren helped guide Cincinnati to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament during the 1998 season.
Kentucky returns several key members from last year's team that compiled a 9-9-2 overall record. Offensively, top scorers senior midfielder Matt Lodge (7g, 10a), junior forward Tyler Riggs (11g, 5a) and senior midfielder Charley Pettys (3g, 7a) return.
Freshman goalkeeper Callum Irving earned the first start of his career in the opener at Dayton, collecting four saves. Three battle for playing time at the position, however, as returner Jack Van Arsdale, and newcomer Dary Dewalt also wear the netminder jersey for the Wildcats.
Kentucky was picked to finish seventh in the Conference USA Preseason Poll.
St. John's Red Storm, 1-0-1 overall record
St. John's is ranked No. 15 in the Aug. 28 NSCAA Top 25 Poll.
St. John's posted a 3-0 victory over Boston University in the 2012 season opener last Friday, before earning a 1-1 tie vs. Colgate to end the opening weekend of play.
The team is led by head coach Dr. Dave Masur in his 22nd season as the head coach of the Red Storm. Masur has led the team to the 1996 national championship and four appearances in the College Cup.
The Red Storm returns 14 letterwinners, including six starters, for last year's NCAA Tournament team. Included in that group are senior midfielder Jack Bennett and sophomore defender Tim Parker, who were both selected to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team earlier this month.
For their efforts last weekend, both goalkeeper Rafael Diaz and Parker were selected to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll. Diaz collected three saves in the season-opening win vs. Boston University, the 16th shutout of his career. Parker anchored a defense that surrendered just one goal in two matches last weekend.
St. John's was picked to win the BIG EAST Red Division in the league's annual preseason poll. The Red Storm won last year's BIG EAST Tournament to receive the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Northwestern Wildcats, 0-0-1 overall record
Northwestern is ranked No. 25 in the Aug. 28 NSCAA Top 25 Poll
Northwestern battled Xavier to a 1-1 double-overtime tie in the 2012 season opener last Saturday.
The Wildcats are led by head coach Tim Lenahan in his 12th season. Lenahan was the 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year. Former South Carolina assistant coach Mike Babst is also on staff at NU.
Northwestern returns a strong core from last year's team, including nine starters. Four All-Big Ten honorees return, including sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Miller, senior midfielder Chris Ritter, junior midfielder Lepe Seetane and sophomore defender Nikko Boxall. Seetane is the team's top returning goal scorer, having posted five goals in 2011.
The Wildcat defense allowed just 0.90 goals per game last season in collecting 10 shutouts.
The Wildcats were picked to finish first in the Big Ten Preseason Poll, which was announced earlier this month.
35th Season Notable
Over the course of the past 34 seasons, South Carolina has had several student-athletes earn prestigious honors, including two that were named the National Goalkeeper of the Year. Warren Lipka became the first Gamecock to earn the award, following what still stands as a record-setting season in 1985. Lipka helped guide Carolina to a 20-3-1 record that season, a year where Carolina advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Lipka played an unmatched 2,155 minutes in net that season, collecting 15 shutouts, both numbers still stand as Gamecock records in their respective category today. Also that season, Gamecock head coach Mark Berson was named the NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year. Lipka is currently the head women's coach at Morehead State University.
Up Next For The Gamecocks
South Carolina travels to South Florida for the USF Tournament next weekend. The Gamecocks will face host USF on Thursday, before finishing tournament play vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday. Live stats will be available via GamecocksOnline.com.