Oct. 18, 2006
DALLAS–With 16 seconds to play and trailing 1-0 on the road against the No. 1 team in the country, senior Ayo Akinsete scored the game-tying goal and No. 16 South Carolina went on to tie SMU, 1-1, at Westcott Field in Dallas, Texas, Wednesday night. The Gamecocks are now 10-3-1 overall and a 3-2-1 in Conference USA play. Top-ranked SMU remained unbeaten at 13-0-3 and 3-0-2 in league games. South Carolina is the only team to tie the Mustangs at home this season.
“I want to credit our team for a tremendous performance tonight in coming back against SMU on the road to earn the tie,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “We gave up a goal in the first half and after they scored, we were in the difficult position of having to chase the game and take the game to SMU. As the game went on, we found our rhythm and we linked up a lot of passes. Both teams worked very hard off the ball, and neither team was able to create a lot of chances in regulation play.”
“Mike (Gustavson) made a very good save late in the game, and our guys never gave up,” Berson added. “They pushed forward and showed a lot of character and heart. We played very well against a good opponent on the road. The most important thing tonight was our character and determination in coming back. We played with a lot of confidence and poise in that comeback effort. “
With time winding down, SMU looked like it would walk away with win No. 14. South Carolina continued to fight and it paid off. The Mustangs turned the ball over inside their own 18-yard box and Akinsete picked it up and fired it into the back of the net, tying the game with his fourth goal of the season at the 89:44 mark.
South Carolina out-shot SMU 5-2 in the opening half, but the Mustangs were the first team to score. Shortly after entering the game, Manuel Mariel found the back of the net at the 33:34 mark. Daniel Lopez and Chase Wileman were credited with assists on Mariel’s goal, which came on a header.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net during two 10-minute overtime periods, ending the match in a draw.
SMU had 20 shots to South Carolina’s 14 in the match. Gamecock goalkeeper Mike Gustavson made a season-high nine saves in goal. Wideman finished with five stops for the Mustangs.
Senior Mike Sambursky led the Gamecocks with six shots, including three that were saved by Wideman.
South Carolina defeated SMU, 3-0, in the last meeting between the two teams on Oct. 30, 2005, in Columbia. The all-time series now stands at 3-4-1 in SMU’s favor. Dating back to last season, the Gamecocks are 22-5-3 in their last 30 matches.
CSTV was on-hand to tape Wednesday’s match. The contest between the Gamecocks and Mustangs will first air on CSTV on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. ET. CSTV is available on Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Adelphia and Insight cable systems, among others, and is also available on DirecTV (Channel 610) and DISH Network (Channel 152). On Time Warner cable in Columbia, CSTV is channel 150.
The Gamecocks return to Columbia for their final regular season home match on Saturday, Oct. 21, against UCF. Kickoff is set for 7p.m. and the first 250 fans to arrive at Stone Stadium will receive a free Gamecock visor, courtesy of Verizon Wireless. South Carolina’s six seniors will be honored prior to the match.