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Sept. 30, 2006

The No. 6 South Carolina men’s soccer team (9-1-, 2-0 C-USA) travels to Lexington, Ky., for its first Conference USA road match of the season on Sunday, Oct. 1, against the Kentucky Wildcats (7-2-1, 0-0 C-USA). Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. ET at the UK Soccer Complex. Live stats for match will be available through South Carolina’s web site at

South Carolina has won nine straight heading into Sunday’s match at Kentucky. Carolina has a 9-1-0 overall record and a 2-0-0 mark in Conference USA play. On Wednesday night, the Gamecocks defeated No. 25 UAB, 2-0, in Columbia. Freshman Cory Lewis scored two goals, the first of his career. The win was No. 400 for South Carolina head coach Mark Berson. Senior Mike Sambursky continues to lead South Carolina in scoring. The preseason All-American has compiled 18 points on five goals and eight assists. Senior Rob Charest (3 g, 2 a), sophomore David Smith (2 g, 4 a) and freshman Jeff Scannella (2 g, 4 a) are tied for second with eight points each. Senior Ayo Akinsete (3 g, 1 a), who scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Memphis last Sunday, ranks third on the club with seven points. Sophomore Mike Gustavson has played every minute in goal this season and registered an 0.99 goals-against average. Gustavson has collected 29 saves and has five shutouts. South Carolina has out-shot its opponents, 149-108, and taken 49 corner kicks and while giving up 44. The Gamecocks have scored 22 goals and allowed 10.

Kentucky (7-2-1) opens Conference USA play on Sunday against the Gamecocks. The Wildcats are coming off a hard fought, 1-0 loss at No. 14 Indiana this past Wednesday. Entering the week, Kentucky was tied for third nationally in scoring offense, averaging 3.11 goals-per-match. Riley O’Neill leads the conference in shots, goals and points. He has scored 25 points on 11 goals and three assists. Jase Griffiths (2 g, 5 a) and Michael Strong (4 g, 1 a) are second with nine points apiece. Dan Williams has played the majority of minutes in goal this season. He has an 0.55 goals-against average to go with 29 saves and four shutouts. Kentucky is 6-1-0 in matches played at home this season and its two losses have both come in overtime. Ian Collins is in his13th season at the Wildcats’ head coach.

South Carolina is ranked No. 6 in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America Poll, its highest ranking in any poll since Sept. 24, 2002, when the Gamecocks were No. 2 in the Soccer Times Poll. This week’s NSCAA ranking is the highest in that poll since Carolina was No. 3, also on Sept. 24, 2002. Carolina is No. 11this week, according to Soccer Times and College Soccer News, and holds down the No. 21 spot in this week’s Soccer America rankings.

>> The Gamecocks have a 3-0-1 all-time record against the Kentucky Wildcats. South Carolina has out-scored UK, 9-0, in the four meetings.

>> Carolina and Kentucky both joined Conference USA as affiliate members in 2005 and met twice last season. The Gamecocks defeated the Wildcats, 1-0, on Oct. 14 in Columbia. In the opening round of the C-USA Tournament, the two teams played to a scoreless tie before the Gamecocks advanced in a shootout, 4-2.

>> Head coach Mark Berson captured career win No. 400 on Wednesday night against UAB. Berson is one of five active Division I coaches and one of 11 Division I coaches all-time to reach the milestone.

>> Dating back to last season, the Gamecocks are 21-3-2 in their last 26 matches.

>> Mike Sambursky has been involved in 13 of the Gamecocks’ 20 goals this season. He has scored five goals and assisted on eight others. At an average of 2.00 points per game, the co-captain is tied for 13th nationally, according to the Sept. 25 NCAA Statistics.

South Carolina has been on fire during the month of September. After dropping their first game of the season on Aug. 25, the Gamecocks reeled off nine straight victories during month number nine. The last time Carolina finished undefeated during an entire month was during October of 1994, posting a 9-0 record.

Senior Mike Sambursky is the national assist leader, according to the most recent NCAA statistics report (Sept. 25). Sambursky has assisted on eight goals in nine matches this season, an average of 0.89 per match. His eight assists in 2006 match his junior season total from 2005. In addition, Sambursky’s 22 career assists rank eighth all-time at South Carolina.

On Wednesday night, South Carolina head coach Mark Berson won his his 400th career game. With eight victories this season. Berson become the fifth active Division I coach to achieve the feat, joining Michael Parker (456) of UNC Greensboro, SMU’s Schellas Hyndman (445), John Rennie of Duke (432) and Tom Martin of James Madison (406). He was became the eleventh coach in Division I men’s soccer history to win at least 400 matches and one of 20 NCAA coaches (all divisions). Mark Berson entered the 2006 campaign with 391 career victories in 29 seasons as a collegiate coach, including 28 years at South Carolina. He also ranked fifth on the career wins list among active Division I coaches and 21st all-time. Entering the season, his .708 winning percentage is 11th among active D-1 coaches. Berson’s record at Carolina is now 389-144-45. His career mark stands at 400-149-45, including one season at The Citadel.

South Carolina’s current nine-match win streak is the longest active streak of any team in the country this season. The Gamecocks’ nine-match win streak stands as the longest string of victories since the 1997 season when Carolina won 10-straight contests from Oct. 18 through Nov. 23.

Gamecock freshman Cory Lewis had a breakout game on Wednesday night vs. UAB. The Alpharetta, Ga., exploded for a pair of goals, the first of his career, to lead Carolina to the 2-0 win.

The Gamecocks hold a 21-6-4 all-time record against Conference USA opponents. In its first season competing in the league in 2005, Carolina finished with a 7-1-1 mark during regular season competition and 2-0-1 in the C-USA Tournament on the way to winning the title. Here’s a look at the Gamecocks’ history versus league teams:

Team Home    Away    Neutral OverallUAB 1-1-0   1-0-0   2-0-0   4-1-0UCF 1-0-0   2-0-0   0-0-1   3-0-1FIU 2-0-1   3-0-0   0-0-0   5-0-1Kentucky    2-0-0   1-0-0   0-0-1   3-0-1Marshall    0-1-0   0-0-0   0-0-0   0-1-0Memphis 1-0-0   0-0-1   1-0-0   2-0-1SMU     3-0-0   0-1-0   0-3-0   3-4-0Tulsa   1-0-0   0-0-0   1-0-0   2-0-0Totals  11-2-1  7-1-1   4-3-2   22-6-4

South Carolina’s six-man senior class has provided both production and leadership this season. Ayo Akinsete, Rob Charest, Makan Hislop, Ryan Leeton, Ralph Pace and Mike Sambursky were all regulars in the starting 11 last season and three finished the season with all-conference laurels (Sambursky, Leeton and Pace). The group has combined to make 272 starts and play in 303 matches for the Garnet and Black. They have also scored 140 points on 54 goals and 37 assists.

In 2006, at Gamecocks’ scoring attack has been fairly balanced. Ten different South Carolina players have scored at least one goal this season and eight have registered at least one assist.