Oct. 7, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. —Freshman midfielder Jeff Scannella’s goal in the 79th minute pushed ninth-ranked South Carolina past Florida International, 1-0, in a Conference USA men’s soccer match Saturday night. Tonight’s match was played under a misty rain, which made for slippery field conditions at Stone Stadium in Columbia. The Gamecocks improved to 10-2-0 overall and 3-1-0 in league play while the Golden Panthers fell to 4-6-2 overall and 0-3-0.
“This was a very good win over a very good FIU team,” Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “”We definitely improved during the week after our game at Kentucky. Our players worked hard. Our ball circulation and attacking play was the best it has been this season. FIU is coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to No. 1 SMU and then a midweek loss to Tulsa. They played with great spirit and determination. It really was a great match. “I was particularly proud of the poise and confidence our team showed for the entire 90 minutes. They never wavered and never faltered. They kept to the task and as a result we had one of our best performances this year.”
The two teams played to a scoreless first half with South Carolina managing five shots to FIU’s four. Carolina goalkeeper Mike Gustavson and Golden Panther netminder Shawn Crowe made two saves apiece.
Early in the second half, South Carolina controlled possession of the ball for the most part. In the 54th minute, the Gamecocks threatened when Mike Sambursky pegged the top left corner of the cross bar.
As the clocked ticked inside 20 minutes remaining, the Gamecocks seemed to be building toward a goal. With 12:46 to play, Scannella launched a dangerous shot that sailed barely high over the cross bar.
One minute later, Scannella broke the stalemate. Sophomore David Smith hit a cross from the deep on right side of the field into the left side of 18-yard box. Scannella gained possession of the ball and fired from 12 yards out, converting his third goal of the season.
FIU continued to fight and saw a dangerous opportunity thwarted by Gustavson with just over four minutes to play. Edgard Correa sent a corner kick into the box and Raoul Voss’ header from six-yards out directly in front of the goal was snuffed out by Gustavson, who made four saves in the second stanza.
South Carolina looked as if it might score a second goal with three and a half minutes remaining. The Gamecocks got behind FIU’s defense and Ayo Akinsete played a nice pass to Sambursky on the run, leaving him one-on-one with Crowe. Sambursky’s shot was just wide to the right of the post. , The Gamecocks were called offsides five times in the match. The Gamecocks out-shot FIU, 12-11, and the Golden Panthers attempted six corner kicks to South Carolina’s six. Sambursky led South Carolina with four shots and Crowe finished with four saves for FIU.
South Carolina rebounded tonight after suffering its second loss of the season last Sunday in double overtime at Kentucky. With tonight’s victory, the Gamecocks improved to 7-0-1 all-time against Florida International and secured their sixth shutout of the season.
South Carolina returns to action next Saturday, Oct. 14, when it travels to Huntington, W.Va., to take on Marshall in a Conference USA match. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.