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Sept. 29, 2005

Game Notes
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The South Carolina Gamecocks (3-5-0) are set to play their inaugural match in Conference USA on Sunday, Oct. 2, at East Carolina (0-6-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Greenville, N.C., at Bunting Field. Sunday’s match is the second of a four-match road trip for the Gamecocks and pits USC against ECU for the first time since 1979.

South Carolina will also step onto the field for a conference match for the first time since the 1994 season on Sunday. As a member of a league, the Gamecocks will have a shot to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Conference USA features a nine-match round-robin schedule during the regular season. The top four teams during the regular season will host the fifth through eighth-place teams in the first round of the C-USA Tournament. From there, the best-seeded team remaining after the first round of play will host the semifinals and final. The tournament winner claims C-USA’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tourney.

South Carolina will look for its fourth straight win on Sunday at East Carolina. Last week, the Gamecocks defeated 25th-ranked UNC-Wilmington, 4-2, in Columbia and won on the road at Charlotte, 2-1, in overtime.

After enduring five losses to open the season, the Gamecocks captured their first win on Sept. 18, a 2-1 double overtime victory over Loyola-Chicago in the adidas-Gamecock Classic. The Gamecocks’ current three-match win streak is the longest of any Conference USA team.

USC is in the midst of a four-match road trip, its longest of the season. Junior forward Mike Sambursky is the team’s leading scorer with seven points on a two goals and a team-high three assists. He also leads the Gamecocks with 27 shots. Senior midfielder Eric Szeszycki has set the Gamecocks’ high mark with three goals and is second on the team with six points. Junior forward Ayo Akinsete has scored two goals, both game-winners, and has five points.

Freshman goalkeeper Mike Gustavson has played all 750:54 this season and owns a 1.68 goals-against average. The Aiken, S.C., native has registered 38 saves.

East Carolina returns home from a three-match road trip and brings an 0-6-1 record into Sunday’s match with South Carolina. In its most recent contest, ECU finished in a 3-3 draw with High Point on Sept. 24.

The Pirates have been out-shot 104-82 and have allowed 23 goals while scoring nine through seven matches. Calvin Simon leads the team with eight points on four goals. Matt Kowaleski (2 goals) and David Levine (1 goal, 2 assists) have both scored four points this season. Pirate goalkeeper Chris Hicks owns a 3.19 goals-against average and has 34 saves.

Chad Halverson is in his first season as the interim head coach at East Carolina. The Pirates were picked to finish 10th in the C-USA preseason poll.

Sunday’s contest will mark the first meeting between South Carolina and East Carolina since the 1979 season. The Gamecocks hold a 2-0-0 advantage in the all-time series, winning 7-0 at home on Oct. 6, 1978, and 2-1 in Greenville, N.C., on Sept. 28, 1979.

Senior Greg Reece was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. Reece became the first player to earn Conference USA weekly honors for the Gamecocks.

The Clemmons, N.C., product marked the opposing team’s leading scorer in both matches, holding UNCW’s Sam Leger and Charlotte’s Adam Ruud (a 2004 All-Conference USA first-team selection) without a goal.

Reece, a starter in all eight matches this season, has been dominant in the air and has acted as a stabilizing force for the Gamecock defense this season. He was selected to the all-tournament teams at both the North Carolina Nike Soccer Classic and the adidas-South Carolina Gamecock classic earlier this season. Reece is a three-year starter and captain for Carolina.

Though it is competing in Conference USA for the first time, South Carolina has played six of the nine league teams during the program’s history. In fact, the Gamecocks own a 14-5-2 against current C-USA teams and have a winning record against five of the six opponents. USC will play Marshall, Tulsa and Memphis for the first time this season. Here’s a look at Carolina’s all-time records against league competition:

Team   Home    Away    Neutral OverallE. Carolina 1-0-0   1-0-0   0-0-0   2-0-0UAB 0-1-0   0-0-0   2-0-0   2-1-0UCF 1-0-0   1-0-0   0-0-1   2-0-1FIU 2-0-1   2-0-0   0-0-0   4-0-1Kentucky    1-0-0   1-0-0   0-0-0   2-0-0SMU     2-0-0   0-1-0   0-3-0   2-4-0Totals  7-1-1   5-1-0   2-3-1   14-5-2
(.944) (.833) (.417) (.882)

The Gamecock men’s soccer team was selected to finish fourth in the Conference USA Preseason Poll voted on by the league’s coaches.

SMU was picked to win the conference crown, while Tulsa and 2004 C-USA Champion Memphis were chosen second and third, respectively. UAB followed the Gamecocks in fifth. Fellow affiliate members Kentucky and Florida International were sixth and seventh. UCF, Marshall and East Carolina round out the last three slots, respectively.

Gamecock seniors Josh Alcala and Eric Szeszycki appeared on the Players to Watch List. Alcala ranked fifth on the team in scoring last season, finishing with 11 points on three goals and five assists. Szeszcyki, a team captain, scored 14 points last season on five goals and four assists.

The Gamecocks will wrap up a four-match road trip next weekend when they travel to 2004 Conference USA champion Memphis and UAB. Carolina takes on the Tigers 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Oct. 7, and battles UAB, Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. ET.

• South Carolina has out-scored (8 to 4) and out-shot (64 to 38) its opponent in the team’s three wins.

• Seven different players have scored at least one point for the Gamecocks.

• Senior forward Ryan Deter has seen action in each of Carolina’s last four matches after missing the first four with an injured foot.

• Sebastian Lindholm, who led USC in scoring with 16 points (6 goals, 4 assists) as a freshman last season, will miss the 2005 season with a torn ACL.