Nov. 14, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The NCAA announced the 48-team field and bracket for the 2005 College Cup Monday, and the Conference USA Tournament Champion South Carolina men’s soccer team will play at Wake Forest on Friday, Nov. 18, in the first round. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Spry Stadium in Winston Salem, N.C.
South Carolina earned one of 23 automatic bids to the tournament by winning the C-USA Tournament title on Sunday in Dallas. The Gamecocks are making their 18th appearance overall in the NCAA Tournament and their eighth in the last 11 years.
“Wake Forest is a very good team, and it’ll be a challenge,” head coach Mark Berson said. “We’re playing very well at this time, that’s undeniable. We have a lot of confidence. I don’t think there’s any challenge this team can’t meet. We’ve had some very strong, mentally-tough teams through the years here at South Carolina, but none is tougher than this group.”
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, South Carolina is one of the nation’s hottest teams. The Gamecocks stumbled to a 0-5-0 start, but have since responded by going 12-1-2 in their last 15 matches and capturing the C-USA Tournament Championship. USC finished the regular season a 12-6-2, including a 7-1-1 mark in Conference USA regular season play.
Wake Forest, one of eight teams from the ACC to make the tournament, owns an 11-7-2 record. The Gamecocks and Demon Deacons will play for the second time this season on Friday. The two teams met in the third game of the year in the UNC Soccer Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., with Wake winning, 3-0. The all-time series between the two teams is locked at 11-11-4. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series in WinstonSalem, 6-4-2, including a 1-0 victory on Sept. 24, 2004.
This marks just the second time in school history that USC has entered the tournament as an automatic qualifier. The Gamecocks have been an independent for all but three seasons of the soccer program’s existence. USC played in the Metro Conference in 1993 and 1993, winning the league and earning an automatic bid in 1993. South Carolina played in the NCAA Championship game that season. This is the Gamecocks’ first season as a member of Conference USA.
The winner of Friday’s match will advance to play at No. 10-seed Old Dominion in the second round on Tuesday, Nov. 22.