Sept. 29, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s soccer team (3-5-2, 0-2-1 C-USA) battled visiting FIU (6-1-2, 0-0-1 C-USA) to a 1-1, double overtime tie on Saturday night at Stone Stadium in the first home Conference USA match of the season for Carolina. Gamecock freshman forward Wesley Eads scored the first goal of his career in the match.
“The game was two different halves,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “I thought it was the best first half that we’ve played in a while and I thought we created a good number of opportunities to put the game away and we just have to do that. If you make three or four point-blank saves, we need to get one of those. We need to keep working at that. It’s difficult to have the lead, and then give the lead up. We had several good chances in the SMU contest, and tonight we had even more, better chances, and the lid was just on the goal tonight a little bit.”
Both teams posted 17 shots in the match, with the Gamecocks holding a 9-3 advantage in shots on goal. In the opening half, Carolina had 11 attempts to just one from FIU, but the Panthers held a 12-4 upperhand in the second set. Junior forward Bradlee Baladez led Carolina with three shots on goal, while Eads earned the score, and redshirt-sophomore Hunter Wyer collected the first assist of his career.
The match was physical as South Carolina was whistled for 20 fouls and FIU on 16. The Gamecocks drew three yellow cards in the match against two by the Panthers.
South Carolina goalkeeper Alex Long collected two saves, while FIU netminder Robin Spiegel earned eight, including six in the opening half. FIU’s Quentin Albrecht paced the squad with five shots and the Panther goal.
Spiegel would have two saves early in the opening half on shots from Snoopy Davidson and Baladez. Sophomore midfielder Stephen Anderson had Carolina’s first real threat of the half, when he connected with Baladez on a give-and-go inside the Panther 18, but his attempt was wide to the right of frame.
Baladez would force Spiegel to make a diving save on a free kick opportunity towards the upper 90 in the 28th minute, and the Panther netminder would earn saves on attempts from freshman Jeffrey Torda, and sophomore Braeden Troyer near the 35th minute mark to hold the contest scoreless.
The score was 0-0 at halftime, but FIU would find offensive momentum after the break. Albrecht would see an attempt go wide in the 52nd minute, and he would have another attempt blocked at the 18-yard line moments later.
After a round of substitutions in the half, South Carolina would mark the scoreboard. Wyer sent a perfect cross on a Carolina corner kick, which would find Eads, who headed the ball past the FIU defense at the goal line for a 1-0 Gamecock upperhand in the 74th minute.
FIU would continue to put pressure on the Gamecocks, posting six shots in the next 10 minutes of play, but Long earned a save and two Panther shots were blocked during the stretch.
FIU would even the match at 1-1 in the 87th minute on a free kick opportunity. From 25 yards out, Daniel Gonzalez sent a cross to the far post, which Albrecht headed into the back of the net for the equalizer.
Both teams had opportunities in the first overtime session. Spiegel would make a save on an attempt from Gamecock defender Eric Martinez, and Davidson’s rebound attempt was high of the crossbar in the 92nd minute. FIU would pose a threat in the set with two shots, but the match went into the final overtime session knotted at 1-1.
Long made a save on a shot from FIU’s Chris Lamarre in the 102nd minute, and counterpart Spiegel collected a save on an attempt from Baladez in the final minutes, but neither team was able to earn the golden goal, and the contest ended in a 1-1 tie.
South Carolina continues its homestand when it hosts UCF on Oct. 7 at 3:30 p.m. Stayed tuned to GamecocksOnline.com throughout the week for updated match details.