Sept. 24, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C — Senior Ayo Akinsete scored in the 102nd minute to send the No. 11 South Carolina men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over No. 15 Memphis in its Conference USA opener Sunday afternoon at Stone Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks ran their win streak to eight straight and improved to 8-1-0 overall and 1-0-0 in C-USA action.
South Carolina handed Memphis its first loss since Sept. 1 and halted the Tigers’ five-match winning streak. Memphis fell to 7-2-0 on the year and 1-0-0 in conference play.
“Today’s game was first and foremost, a gutsy performance from our young men,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “Our match (at NC State) on Wednesday night took a lot out of us. The heat was a factor for both teams. I thought our team got stronger as the game went on. We had a flurry of opportunities in both overtime periods. This is a good win against a nationally-ranked team and most importantly, a win against one of the very good teams in our conference.”
After 100 minutes, the Gamecocks and Tigers remained deadlocked at one, but Akinsete wasted little time hitting the decisive goal in the second overtime period. Following a pass from senior Mike Sambursky, Akinsete’s shot from 12 yards out on the right side beat Memphis goalkeeper Tyler Strom into the lower left corner of the goal.
South Carolina put pressure on Memphis early in the match and forced Strom to make five saves in the first half alone. Senior Rob Charest led the way for Carolina with three shots on goal, but the Gamecocks were unable to put one away and the match remained scoreless at the half.
The Gamecocks finally broke through in the 60th minute when Sambursky fired a laser from 30 yards out and into the upper right corner of the goal. It marked goal No. 5 for the preseason All-American. Sophomore David Smith assisted on the goal.
Memphis retaliated immediately, tying the game one just 22 seconds after the Gamecocks’ goal. Kevin Walsh scored on a header from the right post with the assist coming from Tripp Harkins.
South Carolina out-shot Memphis 17-13 for the match, including a 5-0 advantage in overtime. The Gamecocks had nine shots on goal.
Strom made seven saves for Memphis while South Carolina goalkeeper Mike Gustavson picked up four stops for the Gamecocks.
Today’s win marked the 399th of Carolina head coach Mark Berson’s career. South Carolina also improved to 2-0-1 all-time against Memphis.
Carolina is back in action on Wednesday, Sept. 27, when the UAB Blazers visit Columbia for a 7 p.m. match. The first 400 fans to arrive at the match will receive a free Carolina Soccer scarf, courtesy of adidas. Wednesday’s match will be nationally-televised by CSTV. It is set to air tape delayed on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 8:30 p.m.