Gamecocks square off with Clemson Friday night at Stone Stadium
47th all-time meeting between the in-state rivals
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina (1-1-0, 0-0-0 C-USA) welcomes in-state rival Clemson (1-1-0, 0-0-0 ACC) to Stone Stadium on Friday night for the annual Palmetto Series matchup between the two schools. Kickoff is slotted for 7 p.m. ET, with the gates opening 1 hour prior. Students and fans are encouraged to arrive early. All students have the opportunity to earn double Gamecock Rewards points for next week’s football game at Williams-Brice Stadium against No. 3 Georgia.
“This is always a big match,” said head coach Mark Berson. “It’s always two good teams. It’s still a little early, so both teams are clearly still trying to define themselves a little bit and see what they’re all about it. One thing you’re going to see is a massive effort by both teams.”
Tomorrow night’s game will mark the 47th all-time meeting between the two storied soccer programs, who have combined for 53 NCAA Tournament appearances (31 – Clemson, 22 – South Carolina).
The last time the Tigers came to town, Carolina set the single-game attendance record when 6,892 fans attended the match. Since it opened in 1996, seven of the 10 largest crowds in Stone Stadium history have come against Clemson.
“I think we have a chance to break the attendance record, which would be something to shoot for,” said Berson. “We’ve got a lot of students in town, and it’s a big weekend with the home football opener and then Clemson on Friday night. It doesn’t get much better than that for a student at the University of South Carolina.”
The Gamecocks began their 2018 campaign with a tough 1-0 loss in overtime to No. 13 Georgetown (Aug. 24), but bounced back with a 2-1 win against Lipscomb (Aug. 27) — both matches were at The Graveyard. Junior Tucker Monheimer scored the game-winner in the second half against the Bisons. Preseason All-Conference USA selection Luca Mayr assisted on both goals by Carolina in the match.
Senior Ian McGrane started between the posts the first two matches, tallying a career-high seven saves against the Hoyas and three stops against Lipscomb. Newcomers Elijah Bebout, Frano Buhoavac and Josh Corning started both matches on the Gamecocks’ backline. Corning, a freshman and local product from Chapin, S.C., is the only player on the team to go the distance in the first two games of the season.
Head coach Mark Berson is in his 41st season leading the Gamecocks, He’s been the only coach for the program since its first season in 1978. Berson is the active wins leader in NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer with 501 career victories. He is one of just four coaches all-time to hit the 500-win plateau.
Friday night’s rivalry match against Clemson marks the third consecutive home match for Carolina against a 2017 NCAA Tournament team.
The Tigers, who were ranked No. 11 in the Preseason United Soccer Coaches Poll, dropped their opening match of 2018, 2-0, at No. 20 Creighton (Aug. 24). They bounced back with a 1-0 win at Omaha (Aug. 26). Clemson’s roster is a blend of new and old with 14 returnees and 14 newcommers – their recruiting class was ranked No. 3 in the country by Top Drawer Soccer. The Tigers finished the 2017 season with a 12-6-1 record, punching their ticket to the program’s fifth-straight NCAA Tournament. Goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland, a graduate transfer from ETSU, was named to the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List as one of just four goalkeepers on the 32-player list. Clemson is led by an experienced backline that features four-year starter Patrick Bunk-Anderson and three-year starter Tanner Dieterich. The Tigers were voted to finish second in the ACC’s Atlantic Divison by the league’s coaches, just behind No. 1 Wake Forest.
THE PALMETTO SERIES
The Palmetto Series is an annual points competition between the state’s flagship universities in head-to-head athletic events. Points were also awarded for highest team GPA and for a food drive tackling hunger in their communities. The Gamecocks have won the Palmetto series for three-straight years and currently lead 2-0 after wins by women’s soccer and volleyball.
Joint season tickets with South Carolina women’s soccer are still on sale and can be purchased online by clicking here. Carolina finished third in the country in national attendance average in 2017 (2,900 fans per game) and has ranked in the top-10 for attendance in four consecutive seasons.
The Gamecocks have no midweek game and will hit the road for the first time in the 2018 season, traveling to FAU for the conference opener Friday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. ET on. CUSA.tv, The Owls are led by former Gamecock assistant (2012-16) and player (1998-2001) Joey Worthen, who is in his second season as head coach.