Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

Aug. 8, 2012

media-icon-photogallery.gif Photo Gallery

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina men’s soccer team began training for the 2012 season on Wednesday with a morning fitness and practice session at the USC Indoor Fieldhouse on campus in Columbia. The squad went through its first session of fitness tests and scrimmaged to close out the two-hour practice session.

South Carolina is led by head coach Mark Berson in his 35th season leading the Gamecocks. He enters the season as the reigning Conference USA Coach of the Year and one of eight Division I coaches ever to win 450 matches. In the 2012 Division I coaching record book, Berson is the second-winningest active coach in NCAA Division I men’s soccer by victories (450) and ranks as the No. 8 coach all-time in D-I history by victories.

“It’s great to be out here and back in the swing of things,” Berson commented following practice on Wednesday morning. “The players are anxious to get started. By all indications the fitness level is good. I’m very pleased with the way that the players have reported and I think that is very important. So much of the responsibility of our entire season is on the players and what they do during the summer offseason. Offseason training is all voluntary, with players in different areas of the country playing with various PDL teams or taking care of summer internships for their majors, so a huge part of our preseason is already established by the work they have done on their own. To their credit, all indications are that we have a good base for preseason.

“We have a team that is coming off of two years of championships in Conference USA and they know what this year is about. They also have the benefit of recovering from a poor start last year and digging in to become an NCAA Tournament team. All of those factors, as far as experience, are huge for us.”

Eight newcomers join a veteran group in 2012, led by fourth-year players Mike Mangotic, Kevin Stam, Eric Martinez and Alex Long.

“Everyone is very excited,” Stam said. “Normally everyone is nervous for the start of preseason, but we have played together for a while, and everyone was confident today.”

Junior midfielder J.P. Rafferty was encouraged by the play of the newcomers during the opening practice. “It was great to get out for our first practice. All of the freshmen look good and ready to play. It was good to get our first fitness test over with, but everyone was excited and there was a lot of good energy from the group.”

The team returns to the practice fields tonight for another session of training. The first exhibition contest of the season in just six days away when the Gamecocks host Georgia State on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.

Season tickets for men’s soccer, which includes admission to all home games, are currently on sale in the Gamecock Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online at, or by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS. Cost for season tickets for men’s soccer is $25 for adults and $10 for youth (17 and under).