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Sept. 16, 2005

Friday, September 16
College of Charleston vs. Loyola-Chicago 5:00 p.m.
South Carolina vs. Penn 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 18
Penn vs. College of Charleston 1:00 p.m.
South Carolina vs. Loyola-Chicago 3:30 p.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina men’s soccer team (0-4) will aim to capture a fourth straight adidas-South Carolina Gamecock Classic this weekend in Columbia. South Carolina welcomes Penn, Loyola-Chicago and College of Charleston to Columbia for the 19th annual event. Action begins on Friday, Sept. 16, at 5 p.m. when College of Charleston meets Loyola-Chicago. The Gamecocks will battle the Penn Quakers at 7:30 p.m.

Penn faces College of Charleston on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m. and South Carolina takes on Loyola-Chicago at 3:30 p.m. The Gamecock women’s team is scheduled for an 11 a.m. match with Miami that day at Stone Stadium.

Both of USC’s matches will be broadcast live worldwide on South Carolina’s official athletic web site, Richard Rowell will call the action. Live statistics for all four matches will be available via Gametracker on the site as well.

Match Promotions
Friday night is designated as Youth Team Night. Youth wearing their team jersey will be admitted for $1. On Sunday, fans can being their ticket stub from the USC-Alabama football game and get in for $1. Sunday is also Carolina Alumni Association Day. Alumni Association members will be admitted free with their membership card. The team will hold an autograph session on the concourse following Sunday’s match.

In addition, USC will be celebrating Youth Soccer Month throughout the weekend.

Carolina’s Classic History
The Gamecocks are attempting to capture their own Classic title for the fourth straight season and the 14th time overall. USC is 30-4-2 all-time in its own Classic.

Carolina won the inaugural tournament in 1987, and after failing to win the event for two consecutive years, the Gamecocks captured seven straight titles from 1993 to 1999. The Gamecocks also finished first in 1990 and 1991.

In 2004, Carolina knocked off 16th-ranked Portland, 3-2, and defeated Bucknell, 1-0, to win the Classic championship. Ayo Akinsete earned Offensive Most Valuable Player honors and Makan Hislop, Josh Alcala and Mike Sambursky made the all-tournament team.

Slow Start
The Gamecocks will look to shake off a slow start to the season this weekend. South Carolina (0-4-0) has opened the season with four losses, three of which are to teams ranked in the top 15 nationally this week. USC took losses at No. 13 Clemson (2-1, 2 OT) in the season opener, and to No. 10 Wake Forest (3-0) and No. 2 North Carolina (2-0) in the UNC Nike Soccer Classic. The Gamecocks also lost a 1-0 decision to College of Charleston, a 2004 NCAA Tournament team, in their home opener on Sept. 6. South Carolina will look to break out of an offensive slump this weekend after failing to score in its last three matches.

Gamecock Update
Junior Mike Sambursky leads the Gamecocks with 12 shot attempts and one goal. Junior Ayo Akinsete has one assist. Freshman Mike Gustavson has assumed the goalkeeping duties this season, taking over for All-American Brad Guzan, who is now playing professionally in Major League Soccer. Gustavson, a native of Aiken, S.C., owns a 1.94 goals-against average and has made 24 saves in four matches.

Senior Leadership
South Carolina seniors Eric Szeszycki, Greg Reece, Josh Alcala and Ryan Deter will bear much of the leadership responsibility for the Gamecocks this season. All four players are in their fourth season at USC and have combined to play in 225 matches and make 180 starts. The quartet has also scored 78 points.

Rookie in Goal
With the departure of 2004 All-American Brad Guzan, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, USC has a new goalkeeper in 2005. The Carolina roster includes four goalies, all of which are first-year players at USC. Freshman Mike Gustavson has been the starter for the Gamecocks in each of the first four matches. Gustavson has a 1.94 goals-against average and has made 24 saves in four matches.

Gustavson is joined by sophomore transfer Geoff del Forn and fellow rookies Ryan Jenkins and Matt Mierley.

Scouting Penn
The Penn Quakers enter the weekend with a 3-0 record . The Quakers used a 2-0 victory over Villanova and a 2-1 win over Lehigh to capture their own Penn Soccer Classic title for the second straight year. Penn also defeated Temple, 1-0, in its season opener.

Freshman Mike Klein (2 goals) and senior Erik Volante (1 goal, 2 assists) lead the team in scoring with four points apiece. Junior goalkeeper Dan Cepero has played all 270 minutes in goal and registered an 0.33 goals-against average. Cepero has made nine saves and notched a pair of shutouts.

USC and Penn met for the first time ever in 2004, and Quakers came away with a 2-1 win in Philadelphia. The Quakers are coached by Brian “Rudy” Fuller, who is in his eighth season at Penn.

Scouting Loyola-Chicago
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers bring a 1-2 record to Columbia. Loyola dropped its season opener to Gonzaga, 3-2, but bounced back to claim a 2-1 win over Xavier. Most recently, the Ramblers fell at No. 16 Creighton, 4-2, on Sept. 10. Junior Matt Marek leads Loyola’s offensive attack with four points on two goals. Four other players have scored three points this season, including Keum Sung Kim who has a team-high three assists. The Ramblers have used two goalkeepers in three matches. Junior Sean Bond started and played in the team’s first two matches. Freshman Brad Sommer started and played in the loss to Creighton.

Sunday’s match will mark the first ever meeting between South Carolina and Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers are led by first-year head coach Brendan Eitz. Gamecock junior Stephen Sprague began his career at Loyola, playing for the Ramblers as a freshman in 2003.