Oct. 25, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s soccer team (8-6-1) suffered a 4-0 loss to No. 4 North Carolina (12-2-2) on Tuesday night at Stone Stadium. The match was the final non-conference contest of the regular season for both schools.
“It was not a good night to not play well,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “I don’t feel like we played well in any aspect this evening and it has been a while since that has been the case. This group has been on a steady incline of improvement since the beginning of the season and tonight we did not improve like we needed to, or play like we needed to. Our defending was okay at times, but our attacking play was mis-firing. When we only get four shots on goal that’s not good enough. I just don’t think we played as well as we need to play against a good team and when you don’t, this is the result.
“I think the difference was North Carolina to be honest with you. I think that they were very good in their ball movement. They were very good in their passing. They kept us a little off balance tonight. We were chasing the game in big stretches.
“We have a lot to look forward to. This was a game that was important for us as an opportunity to measure ourselves against a really good team. We will take that measurement and that responsibility and get better.”
UNC held a 20-4 advantage in shots in the match. Senior midfielder Vance Benson led the South Carolina attack with two shots, while the Tar Heels were paced by sophomore forward Rob Lovejoy with five shots, including one goal in the match. Junior forward Ben Speas posted four shots, including one goal and an assist, and senior midfielder Kirk Urso and junior forward Billy Schuler both contributed a goal in the match.
The Gamecocks had their first attacking opportunity in the 24th minute as sophomore forward Bradlee Baladez played a ball at the midfield stripe to Mike Mangotic down the left side. The junior forward took a touch to the edge of the attacking third, where he connected with Benson on a one-touch pass to spring Mangotic forward into the box. Tar Heel keeper Scott Goodwin came off of his line to make a diving save and prevent South Carolina from marking the scoreboard.
North Carolina tallied the eventual game winner in the 28th minute as a ball from Speas was played across the box to Lovejoy who finished the cross for the 1-0 advantage.
Benson came close to pulling the Garnet and Black even in the 35th minute on a direct free kick taken from 30 yards out by Baladez. The ball was swung into the box, connecting with the head of J.P. Rafferty where Benson connected on the deflection, but sent a shot over frame.
The Tar Heels struck again though in the 37th minute as Urso hit a shot from 40-yards out that was just past the outstretched arms of South Carolina goalkeeper Alex Long to push the UNC lead to 2-0.
North Carolina would add another score in the 62nd minute on a penalty kick taken by Shuler and the Tar Heels scored their final goal of the match in the 65th minute on a tally by Speas for the final 4-0 score.
The men’s soccer team is back in Conference USA action next Tuesday, Nov. 1, in Orlando, Fla., as they take on UCF in their final regular season away game of the season.