For the second-consecutive season the South Carolina men's soccer team will face SMU in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament. The 23rd-ranked Gamecocks and Mustangs will play on Friday at 6 p.m. ET in Tulsa, Okla., at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Complex. The Gamecocks enter the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, while SMU is the fifth seed.
GAME INFORMATION Date: Friday, November 11, 2011 Kick Off: 6 p.m. ET Location: Tulsa, Okla. Stadium: Hurricane Soccer and Track Complex Series: SMU leads 7-6-2 Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com Video: via Conference USA website for a fee, click HERE Game Updates: South Carolina men's soccer Facebook and Twitter (@GamecockMSoccer)
Carolina Quick Hits
- South Carolina earned the 2011 Conference USA Regular Season Co-Championship this fall. Both the Gamecocks and UAB concluded the season with a 6-1-1 mark in league games, however, by virtue of its 1-0 regular-season victory on the road at UAB, the Gamecocks are the No. 1 seed in the 2011 Conference USA Tournament.
- Carolina is the reigning Conference USA Tournament Champions, as the Gamecocks earned a 1-0 double-overtime win over Tulsa last season to win the event. The Gamecocks also won the 2005 Tournament Championship.
- South Carolina enters Friday's contest having won eight of its last 11 games to conclude the regular season.
- The Gamecocks are led by head coach Mark Berson in his 34th season at the helm of the program. He is assisted by Bert Molinary in his eighth season and Mike Babst in his fifth.
- Berson, in his 35th season overall coaching (spent one season as the head coach at The Citadel), entered the 2011 season ranked as the winningest active coach in Division I men's soccer with 441 career wins.
- The Gamecocks gave Mark Berson the 450th victory of his career with a thrilling 1-0 double overtime win on the road at No. 22 UCF on Nov. 1. Junior defender Eric Martinez netted the game winner on an assist from sophomore forward Bradlee Baladez.
- SMU earned a 3-2 overtime win over South Carolina in the regular-season matchup between the two schools. It marked Carolina's only loss in a conference game in 2011.
Four Gamecocks Earn All-Conference Honors
Four South Carolina men's soccer players garnered All-Conference USA honors on Tuesday. The awards were voted on by the league head coaches. South Carolina sophomore forward Bradlee Baladez was selected to the Conference USA First Team, senior midfielder Stephen Morrissey was named to the second team; and freshman midfielder Braeden Troyer and senior defender Danny Cates were selected to the third team. Troyer was also named to the league's all-freshman squad. (Click HERE for the complete All-Conference Honors release)
Did You Know?
South Carolina also played SMU in last season's semifinal round of the Conference USA Tournament. The Gamecocks earned a 2-1 victory over the Mustangs to advance to the championship contest versus Tulsa. Then-senior defender Will Traynor tallied the game winner for Carolina in the 50th minute on an assist from junior midfielder Stephen Morrissey.
SMU earned a 4-3 victory over Marshall on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the C-USA Tournament to advance to Friday's semifinals. Senior midfielder Arthur Ivo tallied three goals in the match, including the game winner. Ivo paces the squad this season with nine goals and eight assists for 26 points. Sophomore forward Juan Castillo has added five goals and senior defender Diogo de Almeida has contributed four. Sophomore goalkeeper Jaime Ibarra has seen the majority of time in net for the squad. He enters Friday's match with three shutouts on the season, a 1.18 goals against average and 69 saves.
Mark Berson Named Conference USA Coach of the Year
Berson earns the C-USA Coach of the Year honor for the first time, while it marks the second career coach of the year award for the long-time Carolina head coach, as he was named the Independent Coach of the Year following the 1998 campaign. Berson led an exceptionally young team to the 2011 C-USA regular season co-championship this fall, and the squad enters tournament play as the No. 1 seed after a 6-1-1 record in league games. Earlier this season, Berson became just the eighth NCAA Division I coach all-time to reach the 450-victory milestone, captured when Carolina earned a thrilling 1-0 double overtime win at No. 22 UCF in a crucial match towards the regular-season race. Berson is in his 35th season overall as a college head coach and his 34th at South Carolina.
Morrissey Named To Academic All-District Squad
South Carolina senior midfielder Stephen Morrissey has been named to the Capital One Academic All-American District IV First Team, as announced by CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America). The honor is the first for Morrissey. A senior captain for the 2011 squad, Morrissey has tallied four goals on 15 shots, including five on goal this season. Morrissey has started all 17 games this season for the Garnet and Black.
Conference USA Players of the Week
South Carolina juniors Mike Mangotic and Eric Martinez were both honored with Conference USA Player of the Week awards on Monday, with Mangotic earning the Co-Offensive Player of the Week and Martinez named the Defensive Player of the Week. The duo played outstanding last week for Carolina, where the Gamecocks earned a share of the C-USA Regular Season Championship. Mangotic scored both Gamecock goals in a crucial 2-2 Conference USA tie versus Kentucky in the regular season finale on Nov. 4, while Martinez netted the game-winner in a thrilling 1-0 double overtime win at No. 22 UCF on Nov. 1.
Nov. 8 NCAA RPI
South Carolina holds the No. 17 position in the most recent NCAA RPI (Nov. 8). Carolina's Friday opponent, SMU, is currently ranked No. 12. The other two remaining teams in the C-USA Tournament, UAB and UCF, hold RPI's of 14 and 42, respectively.