Gamecocks Drop 1-0 Heartbreaker At No. 20 Kentucky
Oct. 8, 2017
Men’s Soccer at No. 20 Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. — South Carolina (4-7-1, 0-3-1 C-USA) dropped a heart-breaking 1-0 decision on the road in conference play on a rainy Sunday afternoon at No. 20 Kentucky (7-2-2, 4-1-0 C-USA). The Wildcats scored the game-winner in the 90th minute after the Gamecocks dominated possession for most of the second half.
Carolina was whistled for a foul just outside the 18, which led to a free kick with 1 minute remaining in the match. Connor Probert laced one far post and goalkeeper William Pyle made an outstanding save, his seventh of the match. Aime Mabika rebounded the saved shot and knocked it home for the goal to put UK in front 1-0 with 57 seconds left.
Junior captain Peyton Ericson fired a shot that was blocked out of bounds late. The Gamecocks had one more chance on the ensuing corner kick with under 20 seconds left, but UK was able to clear it and run out the clock.
Carolina had two great chances for the first score of the match in the 76th minute and the 80th minute. On the first opportunity, sophomore Campbell Gibson fired a gorgeous pass into the six right, but Tucker Monheimer was whistled for offsides on a close call right in front of the goal. On the second chance, sophomore striker Luca Mayr floated a beautiful ball into senior Spencer Meschter. He headed the pass far post just wide of the net.
The Gamecocks came out swinging after halftime, tallying three shots that in turn led to three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Gamecocks held an 8-1 edge in corners after Mayr’s free kick from the near sideline in the 54th minute.
The teams were pitted 0-0 after a back-and-forth first 45 minutes. Each team had solid chances thanks to 10 shots on both sides in the shot column. UK held a 7-2 edge in shots on goal, but Pyle put on a clinic en route to notching seven spectacular saves.
Carolina had a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks in the break but couldn’t punch the ball home on any of its set pieces. Freshman Justin Sukow and Mayr each had great chances on 1v1 opportunities early in the match.
Sukow beat his man in the 19th minute just outside the six on the near sideline and ripped a shot to the far post that was saved by Enrique Facusse, one of the top keepers in Conference USA. Mayr had a 1v1 chance in the 39th minute after beating his man just before crossing into the 18, but he was unable to get enough on his shot as Facusse scooped it up for an easy save. Both teams battled extremely tough, sloppy field conditions as it rained for the entirety of the match.
“Its a very difficult loss in the last 57 seconds. We played very well and had an edge in possession and territory particularly in the second half, which the stats bear out. But give Kentucky credit, they got the winner. I am so incredibly proud of our guys and their huge effort again today. They have endured some really tough results this year – some of them in the last minutes of the match and they continue to pick themselves back up and fight. We have not been at full strength all season, and they continue to step up and fight for one another. They are crushed right now and I hurt for them. But again, they gave everything today.” — South Carolina men’s soccer head coach Mark Berson
William Pyle was outstanding in goal, finishing the match with seven saves. Five of them came in the first 45 minutes.
Carolina dominated possession in the second half holding Kentucky to just two second half shots going into the 90th minute.
- South Carolina was efficient in its attacking third for big portions of the match, finishing with a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks for the game.
- William Pyle finished with seven saves, one stop shy of tying a single-match career-high.
- Sophomore Campbell Gibson played 16 big minutes in the second half, his first career game action in the Garnet and Black.
- Freshman Benjamin Gilligan made his second career start up top for Carolina alongside standout striker Luca Mayr.
South Carolina has no midweek game for just the second time in the 2017 season. The Gamecocks will have a week to prepare for their next match at home versus another nationally ranked conference foe in No. 17 FIU (5-0-3, 2-0-1 C-USA) on Saturday, Oct. 14. It’s Heroes Night Out at Stone Stadium. All military members and their families will receive free admission to the game.