Nov. 14, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. – The Conference USA Golden Boot winner Mikkel Knudsen came through for South Carolina (10-9), as the Gamecocks downed No. 21 UAB (11-7-1) 1-0 in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament at the ODU Soccer Complex on Wednesday afternoon.
In the 62nd, the redshirt freshman Knudsen got behind the UAB defense and shot, but UAB’s goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky knocked it away and over the end line. On the ensuing corner by sophomore midfielder Kurtis Turner, senior Ryan Freiburger put a head on the ball, and Knudsen flicked it just under the bar and into the net to break the ice and give the Gamecocks the 1-0 lead.
Late in the first half, South Carolina was called for its second foul of the tournament inside the 18. With Darion Copeland on the spot, Gamecock sophomore Marco Velez guessed right, diving and stopping the penalty shot to keep the match scoreless. For Velez, he made four saves in the first half en route to his third shutout of the year.
The Gamecock defense took after the penalty kick, keeping UAB, the 18th-best scoring offense in NCAA Division I entering the match, from getting a shot off on goal for the final 50 minutes of play.
The diving stop of the penalty kick took the wind out of UAB’s sails.
The Gamecock defense did not let UAB fire a shot on goal in the second half on seven tries.
- UAB was called offsides three times, while South Carolina never suffered that penalty.
- The Blazers took more corners than the Gamecocks (11-8), but the teams ended even in shots at 15.
- Kuzminsky had six saves in the contest.
- Junior Jeffrey Torda took seven of the Gamecocks’ 15 shots, putting three on goal.
- The Gamecocks tally their fourth shutout of the year and their first against a ranked foe.
- In their 100th match against a ranked opponent (since 1996), the Gamecocks picked up the win, their third this year in seven tries against such teams.
- South Carolina advances into its third C-USA Tournament Championship game in eight tourney bids and 10 years in the league.
- It’s the second time the Gamecocks have won two-straight matches over ranked foes in a C-USA Tournament (2010, 2-1 vs. No. 5 SMU, 1-0 vs. No. 25 Tulsa).
Tweet of the Match:
— Spurs & Feathers (@SpursFeathers) November 14, 2014
The Gamecocks take on the winner of the Charlotte-Old Dominion match at 2 p.m. EST on Sunday at the ODU Soccer Complex. Select FOX Sports regional networks will carry the game live, like SportSouth in South Carolina.