Aug. 10, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina head men’s soccer coach Mark Berson enters his 38th season at the helm of the Gamecock program in 2015. Berson is once again joined by assistant coaches Joey Worthen and Spencer Lewis on the sidelines for the upcoming campaign. The Gamecocks report to campus on Tuesday, Aug. 11, to begin preparations for the upcoming year, and will host Gardner-Webb in an exhibition match just five days later at Stone Stadium.
The Gamecocks will face a demanding schedule, both in the non-conference and Conference USA portions of the campaign. Four of South Carolina’s opponents are ranked in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25, while five others are receiving votes. Berson thinks this year’s schedule will put the team in position for an NCAA Tournament berth.
“I think the schedule is really demanding,” Berson said. “The conference is outstanding with the quality of teams we have, but we are also playing Clemson, Wake Forest, NC State and UNC Wilmington on the road. So we’ve got a really tough slate of non-conference games. That will be a big challenge for us, but I think it is what we want, and I think it is what we need to get into the NCAA tournament.”
There will be several new faces on the Gamecocks’ squad this season, but one position where Berson has experience is at goalkeeper. Junior netminder Marco Velez returns for the Gamecocks this fall after playing 1,625 minutes in net last year, collecting 62 saves. While Berson returns the majority of minutes at the goalkeeper position, his backline will have many new faces.
“Marco returns and he had a very good year last year, along with Craig Duggan who will be a sophomore, and also sophomore William Pyle, who is a transfer from UNC Greensboro,” Berson commented. “Pyle had a very good first year at Greensboro as a goalkeeper. So we think our goalkeeping will be really solid.
“In the backline we have Ive Burnett returning and he is really the only returning player in the back four, so we have a lot of restructuring to do there,” Berson continued. “Andre Streete comes in as a freshman and should give us immediate help; Torgeir Nyboe will also come in and help us right away, and Matt McManis and Justis Bradley both had a solid spring season for us as well. Clearly we need to find one or two other good, solid defending players for us in the backline. That will be one of the big things we look at in preseason. With the loss of Braeden Troyer, who was all conference perennially, and has been starting for Richmond as a pro, and Mahamoudou Kaba, we have lost some really good central defenders, so that will add to that challenge in the back.”
The midfield returns more veterans, with juniors Kurtis Turner, the Gamecocks’ top returning scorer (3 goals/team high 4 assists) and Koty Millard, and seniors Ryan Arambula and Devin L’Amoreaux anchoring the line.
“In midfield, Kurtis Turner returns who has been a reliable, top-notch performer for us in center midfield,” Berson said. “He is going to be a guy that is going to have to shoulder a lot of leadership burden as well as the playing burden for us to create things in midfield. Koty Millard played on the right side of the field and had an outstanding season last year. He played in midfield, he also played in the back; he is very versatile. We know he will be a major player for us.
“Danny Deakin transfers in from Mercyhurst and will play in the attacking midfield role and he is a guy that we think can create and score goals. Ryan Arambula comes back after last year where he played, but was injured a good portion of the year. Ryan has had a really good summer so we think we are looking forward to having a healthy Ryan Arambula who can play any number of places for us. Devin L’Amoreaux returns and is now a veteran player. He can play on the flank, both wide in midfield and also up front. Out of that group we are going to need to find some help from someone that can help us and come through with our midfield alignment.”
The Gamecock front line will be a mix of veterans and underclassmen, led by the duo of Asa Kryst and Jeffrey Torda, both seniors with goal-scoring experience. They will be looked upon to lead a young and talented group of newcomers at the position.
“Up top Kevin Walker returns. Last year he suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, but returned to play up front in the spring and did well,” Berson said. “We are really looking forward to having Kevin in action up front. Asa Kryst is a senior for us. He has played in the middle and wide for us up top, and clearly he is a guy we will be counting on for his experience and his ability to score goals. Jeff Torda also returns and he has played on the left side of midfield and also played up top. He is another guy who is a veteran performer and has scored big goals for us, so those three guys are going to be the ones up top that we will need to rely on.
“Bjorn Gudjonsson is a freshman from Iceland who plays in the number nine slot up top. A player in that slot needs to score goals and hold the ball and come back and create things. Obviously, as a freshman it will be an adjustment period for him. He is going to be an important piece of what we do up front. Ben Davidson is a freshman from Houston, Texas, who looks to be a good, solid, young player who we can use in a number of spots up front. Joey Hutchinson, a senior for us, returns as a left midfielder or a left winger and he can get balls into the box very effectively.”
Several other newcomers will don the Garnet and Black this fall. A group that Berson and his staff are very excited to welcome to campus and to the pitch at Stone Stadium.
“Also joining our team is freshman Peyton Ericson, a guy we really look forward to getting on the field, probably in defensive midfield or in the back,” Berson continued. “Peyton is coming off of ankle surgery and should be ready a couple of weeks into the season, so it will just be a situation of him being recovered and also getting fit and game ready. Trygve Ellingstad from Norway is another guy we think we will have at some point during the season. He is still in recovery from an injury but he can help us in midfield or up front. So we have a number of guys that are returning from injury that will fit into our picture in a big way as they are able to contribute.
“In the short term we need to see how to put this group together, how they are going to fit together, and how we will function our best way. It will be a very interesting preseason. I think we could look entirely different in October than we do in September, but that is part of the challenge and part of the fun, so it will be a very exciting early part of the year.”
Season tickets are available for Gamecock men’s and women’s soccer in a joint ticket for $25 for adults, while youth 17 and under are $10. The Gamecocks will hold their first practice of the preseason on Wednesday, Aug. 12, before welcoming Gardner-Webb for the first of three exhibition contests to Stone Stadium on Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. Continue to visit GamecocksOnline.com for updates.