Nov. 28, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Seventh-seeded South Carolina (13-7-2) battled but could not overcome playing with a man down as 10-seed Michigan earned a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon in NCAA Round of 16 action at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium in Columbia. The Wolverines (16-4-3) advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
Senior forward Blake Brettschneider led the Gamecock attack with seven shots in the match, including two on goal. Freshman midfielder Bradlee Baladez tallied five shots and senior midfielder Sam Arthur added two, including the lone South Carolina goal in the contest, his first of the season. Michigan held a 22-18 upperhand in shots, led by Soony Saad with eight shots and one goal, including the game winner, and Justin Meram with seven shots, which included two goals. Saad and Alex Wood each picked up an assist for the Wolverines in the match.
South Carolina goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer concluded a celebrated Gamecock career versus Michigan. Maurer collected a season-high nine saves in the contest. UM counterpart Chris Blais earned six saves.
Maurer was tested early, as Meram had an attempt at frame just 21 seconds into the contest. The Wolverine striker hit a shot from inside the 18-yard box, but the attempt was directly into the hands of Maurer. Both teams had their chances through the following minutes of play. Brettschneider nearly connected on a cross by Baladez with just over 32 minutes remaining in the half. Brettschneider battled past a Wolverine defender, but the strike went just wide of the near post.
Michigan threatened at the 18-minute mark on a corner kick opportunity. After a short corner was cleared by Carolina, Saad collected a lose ball just outside the penalty area and hit a rocket towards frame which was blocked by a Gamecock defender. On the rebound, UM’s Alex Wood sent a strike towards frame, which Maurer collected on a diving save to his left to hold the contest scoreless.
Brettschneider earned Carolina’s third shot on goal with 15 minutes left in the opening half. J.P. Rafferty brought the ball into the Wolverine half of the field after a clearance out of the Gamecock defensive third and sent a pass into the center of the field to Baladez, who touched the ball to Brettschneider trailing behind the play, but his shot went directly to Blais for the save. Carolina held its offensive momentum, as Baladez sent a well-placed strike just over the crossbar minutes later.
After a Wolverine free kick with 11 minutes remaining in the half, Carolina had another chance at frame on the transition. Cates sent a long throw-in down the near sideline to Brettschneider, who beat two Wolverine defenders before missing a shot inches above the crossbar with nine minutes remaining in the half.
Carolina earned a free kick on the near sideline with just over four minutes remaining. The cross by Cates clipped through the Wolverine defense to the far post where Janny Rivera hit a one-touch shot towards frame, which Blais saved around the near post for a Gamecock corner. Michigan cleared the corner and neither team marked the scoreboard the remainder of the half, as the contest stood at 0-0 at halftime.
Michigan sent a free kick from 40 yards away from goal wide of the left goal post in the 53rd minute as play got underway in the second half. Minutes later South Carolina nearly scored, as a shot by Evan O’Dell hit off the goal post after a corner kick opportunity. Maurer followed with a stellar save just minutes later. Saad collected a cross deep in the Gamecock defensive third and sent a shot towards the far post, but Maurer took three steps off his line and made another diving save to his left for the save.
Maurer continued his strong play in net, saving another Wolverine attempt with 27 minutes left in the contest. Saad sent a strike towards the top of frame, which Maurer tapped over the top of the crossbar for his ninth save of the match. On the ensuing corner, Meram gave UM a 1-0 lead on a tally to the far post. Wood and Saad earned the double-assist on the score.
After the kickoff the Gamecocks were called for a red card foul and would have to play with 10 players to Michigan’s 11 for the remainder of the contest. South Carolina continued to pressure the Wolverine defense, as Root had a shot saved by Blais with 22 minutes remaining and Brettschneider sent a strike wide 30 seconds later.
Soony Saad pushed the UM lead to 2-0 in the 71st minute and Meram scored his second of the match in the 81st, as the Wolverines took a 3-0 lead with nine minutes remaining in the contest.
Arthur put the Gamecocks on the board with his first goal of the season with just over six minutes remaining in the contest. Brettschneider sent a cross into the Wolverine six-yard box, which Arthur headed into the far post for the Gamecock goal.
Carolina battled the remainder of the contest, but the Wolverines held their lead and earned the 3-1 win, advancing to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina concludes the 2010 season with a 13-7-2 record. Carolina finished fourth in Conference USA in the regular season race and earned the 2010 Conference USA Tournament title.