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Aug. 9, 2005

The Gamecocks have joined the conference as one of three affiliate members for men’s soccer. Carolina has been an independent in men’s soccer for all but two years of the program’s 27-year existence, but this season the Gamecocks will be back in a conference for the first time since 1994. USC played in the Metro Conference during the 1993 and 1994 seasons, winning the title in 1993.

Only three Southeastern Conference schools sponsor the sport of men’s soccer, which is not enough to form a league. Kentucky joins South Carolina as an affiliate member of Conference USA this season, while Vanderbilt will continue to compete in the Missouri Valley.

Conference USA features a 10-team league. In addition to South Carolina and Kentucky, Florida International’s men’s soccer team was invited to play in C-USA as an affiliate member. UAB, UCF, East Carolina, Memphis, Marshall, SMU and Tulsa are full members of Conference USA who compete in men’s soccer.

Conference USA will feature a nine-match round robin schedule during the regular season. The Gamecocks will play five C-USA matches on the road and four in Columbia at Stone Stadium. USC travels to East Carolina, Memphis, UAB, Florida International and Central Florida, and hosts Kentucky, Marshall, Tulsa and SMU this season.

Here’s a look at Carolina’s league slate in 2005:

Oct. 2 at East Carolina (Greenville, N.C.)
Oct. 7 at Memphis (Memphis, Tenn.)
Oct. 9 at UAB (Birmingham, Ala.)
Oct. 14 Kentucky
Oct. 16 Marshall
Oct. 21 at Florida International (Miami, Fla.)
Oct. 23 at UCF (Orlando, Fla.)
Oct. 28 Tulsa
Oct. 30 SMU

South Carolina Head Coach Mark Berson Talks About His Team Playing in Conference USA

On joining Conference USA:
“As we enter Conference USA, we’re very excited about the new opportunities; we’re very excited about the new rivalries. At the same time, we know it’s going to be a challenge to go places we’ve never been and play teams we don’t know anything about, and begin to establish this conference identity that I think will be a real plus to our soccer program over the years.”

On the level of competition in Conference USA:
“The competition in this league is excellent. It will certainly be one of the top three of four conferences in the country based on its RPI and the performance of the teams in the past.”

On adjusting to playing in a conference:
“We welcome this as a great opportunity for our program. We also understand that we’re going to be on a little bit of a learning curve as we adjust to new teams, new places, new rivalries. It will an exciting period and it gives us an excellent goal to shoot for as we try to compete for the conference championship in our first year back in a conference.”

South Carolina is coming off its 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and a 12-7-1 record in 2004. The Gamecocks report to campus on Friday, Aug. 12 to begin preseason training. Carolina will play two exhibition matches, at Furman on Aug. 20 and at home against Coastal Carolina on Aug. 27. USC will officially kick off the 2005 season on Sept. 2 at Clemson.

Fans can purchase season tickets for all eight home matches by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS or (803) 777-4274. Adult season tickets are $40, and senior citizen season tickets are $30. A family season ticket package for two adults and two children is available for $80.