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Aug. 13, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina men’s soccer team kicked off its 2008 season on Wednesday with the first of two practices on the day. Due to inclement weather, the Gamecocks practiced inside the Carolina Indoor Fieldhouse on the turf field during the morning session. Carolina is led by head coach Mark Berson who enters his 31st year of coaching the Gamecock program.

“It’s great to have the guys back on campus,” Mark Berson commented. “Everyone reported in a reasonable state of fitness. I think all the guys worked hard during the offseason, and that gives us an opportunity to build on that in practice. Thankfully, we don’t have too many injuries coming back, which is a good thing, and again it’s just great to have the opportunity to work with the team, start the teaching process and the building of a team. It was a good start today. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate, we were able to come into the Fieldhouse and get some things started. I’m very pleased with the attitude of this group and with the work ethic that they’ve brought, and we’re looking forward to getting the season started.”

Returning for his senior season is midfielder David Smith. Smith enters his final year in the Garnet and Black looking to add to his career totals of two goals and eight assists.

“I’m excited to be back on campus, and the team looks really good right now,” Smith said. “Everyone looks to have played hard over the summer, and the group is in good shape. It really showed out here today.”

The reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Year, goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, echoed Smith’s enthusiasm about the opening day of practice.

“Everyone came into camp in really good shape, and we are all ready for the season,” Maurer said. “We all worked hard this morning in our opening session, worked on our defense and just enjoyed being back on campus and getting ready for the year.”

Carolina returns to the practice field Wednesday night at 7 p.m., preparing for its first exhibition of the season when it hosts Winthrop on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m.

The Gamecocks open the regular season on Aug. 29, hosting archrival Clemson at Stone Stadium in Columbia. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m.