COLUMBIA, S.C. -
In the annual Pink Game for breast cancer awareness, the South Carolina men's soccer team (5-5-4, 2-1-2 C-USA) hosts No. 25 New Mexico (8-3-2, 4-0-1 C-USA) on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Stone Stadium. The match marks the first meeting between the programs.
In its first season as a Conference USA member, New Mexico currently sits in second place in the conference standings; the Gamecocks are fourth.
South Carolina is in its 36th season of varsity soccer in 2013.
South Carolina head coach Mark Berson is in his 37th season overall and his 36th season as head coach of the Gamecocks. He is assisted by former players Spencer Lewis and Joey Worthen, both in their second season. Tim O'Toole is the volunteer assistant coach.
Head coach Mark Berson is aiming for his 450th victory at the University of South Carolina. He would be just the fourth Division I head coach to post 450 victories at one institution. On Nov. 1, 2011, Berson collected his 450th career win in a double overtime victory over No. 22 UCF in Orlando, Fla., becoming the eighth Division I coach all-time to reach the 450-win career milestone.
Scouting New Mexico
After a midweek victory by Old Dominion, No. 25 New Mexico currently sits in second place in Conference USA earning 13 points with its undefeated league record of 4-0-1. The Lobos, like the Gamecocks, still have the league's other two top-four teams, No. 10 UAB and (RV) Old Dominion, on the schedule. New Mexico has not lost since dropping a non-conference contest 1-2 to UC Davis on Sept. 27.
Offensively, three New Mexico players have collected 10 points or more. In his first season with the Lobos, freshman forward Niko Hansen leads the team with 15 points on six goals and three assists. Junior forward James Rogers is just behind with 14 points on five goals and four assists, and senior midfielder Michael Calderon has also made an impact, scoring four goals and delivering two assists for 10 points.
Between the posts, senior Michael Lisch has played in all 13 matches for the Lobos, posting a league-leading five shutouts. This season, he has hauled in 21 saves and has a 0.74 goals against average. Allowing 10 goals on the season, the netminder has let just one ball slip past him in the last four matches.
Last Week's Action
Trailing 0-1 on the road at Marshall on Saturday, Oct. 19, senior midfielder J.P. Rafferty scored the equalizer in the 54th minute on a header. Ultimately, the Gamecocks and Herd tied 1-1 after 110 minutes of play. Freshman Kurtis Turner recorded his fourth assist of the season on the play, setting up Rafferty on a long cross off of a free kick. Turner broke into the Gamecock all-time top 10 for assists by a freshman. After the weekend, Rafferty and Turner are currently second and third on the team in points with seven and six, respectively.
Turner put the game-winning goal away in the 87th minute on Wednesday, Oct. 16, in a home conference match against FAU. The tally was Turner's first career goal in the Garnet and Black. The Gamecocks also scored on a penalty kick from junior defender Braeden Troyer in the first half in the 2-1 victory.
At Stone Stadium
The Gamecocks have just two of their 11 regular-season contests remaining at Stone Stadium this season, both are Conference-USA matches. The Gamecocks completed the 2013 non-conference slate with a 3-0-2 undefeated home record. Only three other teams in C-USA did the same, Florida Atlantic (4-0-0), No. 23 Tulsa (3-0-0) and Kentucky (2-0-0).
Scoring on Set Pieces
Of the Gamecocks' 18 goals this season, 10 of the tallies have come directly (8) or indirectly (2) as a result of a set piece. Kaba and Arambula are the usual suspects, connecting four times for a score this season. Kaba's team-leading fifth goal was on a rebound from a shot attempt created from a corner kick.
In their 14 regular-season matches, South Carolina has played six overtime matches. Four have resulted in ties, including the last two overtime matches. Two of South Carolina's losses have come in extra minutes. The Gamecocks have gone to extra time in three of their last four matches and five of their last eight.
Earlier Conference USA Action
The Gamecocks surrendered a 1-0 lead to No. 23 Tulsa on Sunday, Oct. 6. The Golden Hurricane scored the game-winner with three seconds on the clock in the first overtime period of the match. Junior defender Mahamoudou Kaba scored on a header from a corner kick from sophomore midfielder Ryan Arambula. The goal capped a three-goal week for Kaba after scoring two in the non-conference finale against Presbyterian earlier in the week.
In a road match against Kentucky on Sunday, Oct. 13, South Carolina collected one point in the C-USA race. The Gamecocks and Wildcats tied 0-0 after 110 minutes of action.
South Carolina's first road win of the season could not have come at a better time. The Gamecocks scored two unanswered goals to defeat (RV) Charlotte 2-1 on Friday, Sept. 27. Junior defenders Mahamoudou Kaba and Braeden Troyer provided the offense. Troyer's unassisted gamewinner came off a rebound from a corner kick in the 81st minute. Prior to the Gamecocks' two tallies, the 49ers had allowed just four goals over the course of their first seven matches of the season. Freshman keeper Marco Velez earned his first career win in the Garnet and Black.
Up Next for the Gamecocks
South Carolina plays two-straight games away from Stone Stadium. First, the Gamecocks travel south to face Florida International in Miami, Fla., on Wednesday, Oct. 30. The conference tilt is slated to kickoff at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, Nov. 3, South Carolina travels to No. 10 UAB for a 3 p.m. contest. The final match of the season is on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m., in Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks face (RV) Old Dominion in the C-USA matchup.