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Sept. 8, 2005

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s soccer team travels across the border this weekend to take part in the North Carolina Nike Soccer Classic in Chapel Hill. The Gamecocks will face Wake Forest on Friday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m. before meeting the host Tar Heels on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 3:30 p.m. Both matches will be played at Fetzer Field on the UNC campus.

The Gamecocks are looking for their first win of the young season. USC lost a double-overtime heartbreaker, 2-1, at Clemson to open the season on Sept. 2. On Tuesday, College of Charleston dealt the Gamecocks a 1-0 loss, scoring the match’s lone goal on a penalty kick in the 36th minute. Including the match against C of C, three of the Gamecocks’ first four matches are against 2004 NCAA Tournament teams.

Junior forward Mike Sambursky scored USC’s goal against Clemson. Freshman goalkeeper Mike Gustavson has played all 192 minutes in goal and sports a 1.41 goals-against average. He has also made 10 saves.

The weekend will provide a tough test for South Carolina. Wake Forest is ranked in the top 20 in all four college soccer polls with its highest ranking at No. 11 (Soccer Times). The Demon Deacons are 1-1-0 following the first week of the season, including a 1-0 loss at No. 1 Indiana and a 1-0 win over No. 17 Notre Dame in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic.

UNC is ranked as high as No. 2 (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) this week and appears in the top 10 in three of the four polls. The Tar Heels bring a 2-0 record into the weekend and a pair of shutout wins, 3-0 at Richmond and 1-0 over Virginia Commonwealth. In fact, goalkeeper Ford Williams was forced to make a total of only two saves in both matches.

Rutgers is the fourth team competing in the Classic.

South Carolina holds an 11-10-4 lead in the all-time series with Wake Forest. Friday’s match will mark the first time the two teams have met at a neutral site. In 2004, USC beat the Demon Deacons, who were ranked No. 13 at the time of the match, 1-0. Midfielder J.D. Moon scored the game-winning goal in that match on Sept. 24.

The Tar Heels own a 14-10-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Gamecocks, including an 8-6-0 record in Chapel Hill. UNC defeated USC, 2-0, in last season’s meeting, which was also played in Chapel Hill, on Oct. 16.

South Carolina head coach Mark Berson is a 1975 graduate of North Carolina where he lettered four years in soccer. Two players on the USC roster are returning to their home state of North Carolina this weekend. Senior defender Greg Reece is from Clemmons, N.C. where he graduated from West Forsyth High School, while Ryan Deter is from Raleigh and graduated from Leesville Road.