The South Carolina men's soccer team (9-7-2) will host Wake Forest (8-7-4) in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament on Thursday at Stone Stadium. Game time for the match is set for 7 p.m.
GAME INFORMATION Date: Thursday, November 17, 2011 Kick Off: 7 p.m. ET Location: Columbia, S.C. Stadium: Stone Stadium Series: Wake Forest leads, 14-12-1 Live Stats: GamecocksOnline.com Free Live Video: GamecocksOnline.com
NCAA Tournament Parking And Ticket Information Price: $8 for adults, $5 for youth (17 and under), South Carolina faculty, staff and students
** The first 200 students will be admitted free courtesy of tickets provided by Gamecock Club chapters (student entrance is the Whaley St. entrance)
** Ticket gates will open one hour prior to kick off (6 p.m.)
** Parking for the NCAA Men's Soccer contest between South Carolina and Wake Forest will be free of charge in the Heyward Street parking garage.
Carolina NCAA Tournament Notes
- South Carolina has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 20 times in its history.
- Carolina owns an all-time record of 16-19 in NCAA Tournament contests, including an 11-11 mark in games played at Stone Stadium.
- South Carolina won the Conference USA Tournament in 2010 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. Carolina earned the No. 7 national seed in the event.
- Mark Berson led his team to the College Cup in the 1988 and 1993 seasons. The Gamecocks advanced to the National Championship game in 1993. Virginia earned a 2-0 win over the Gamecocks in that match - held in Davidson, N.C.
- The winner of Thursday's match will advance to play in a road contest at 14th-seeded James Madison on Sunday at 5 p.m.
- 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 were the No. 1 seed in the 2011 Conference USA Tournament.
- South Carolina concluded the regular season having won eight of its last 11 games.
- 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.
Scouting The Gamecocks
South Carolina is led offensively by sophomore forward Bradlee Baladez, an All-Conference USA First-Team honoree. The Dallas, Texas, native leads the team with seven goals and five assists this season. Freshman midfielder Braeden Troyer has chipped in five goals, including two game winners, while senior midfielder Stephen Morrissey has tallied four. The Gamecocks have scored 28 goals this season against 30 by their opponents. Netminder Alex Long owns a 1.61 goals against average with 47 saves entering Thursday's matchup versus the Demon Deacons.
Scouting Wake Forest
Like South Carolina, Wake Forest earned an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament after a hard-fought season. The Demon Deacons enter Thursday's contest with an overall record of 8-7-4. The squad finished the ACC season with a mark of 4-3-1 and a fifth-place finish in the league. Wake Forest is led by Luca Gimenez with six goals on the year, two of those marks coming in a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Virginia in the ACC Tournament. Andy Lubahn and Sean Okoli have both contributed four goals. In net for Wake Forest, Michael Lisch enters Thursday's contest with a 1.34 goals against average and 74 saves.
Wake Forest Series Information
Wake Forest holds a slight 14-12-1 upperhand in the all-time series with South Carolina. The team's have met in each of the last three seasons, with Wake Forest earning victories in the 2008 and 2009 meetings, and South Carolina most recently earning a 1-0 road win at Dennie Spry Stadium last fall in the 2010 matchup.
Regular Season Versus Wake Forest
South Carolina and Wake Forest were originally scheduled to play a non-conference match at Stone Stadium during the regular season on Sept. 21, however, due to inclement weather and lightening in the Columbia area, the match was cancelled. The team's attempted to take the field several times, including the last attempt of the evening at 9:50 p.m., however a final lightening strike halted the match.
Four Gamecocks Earn All-Conference Honors
Four South Carolina men's soccer players garnered All-Conference USA honors on Nov. 8. 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.
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.