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Pitch Perfect Match for Gamecock Soccer Couple

by Brad Muller

Although their collegiate careers only crossed over for less than two years, South Carolina men’s soccer alumnus Peyton Ericson (2015-2018) and women’s soccer alumna Luciana Zullo (2017-2021) have a lifetime of memories to which they can look forward. The former Gamecocks were recently married and are starting their new lives together off the pitch.

“It’s crazy when you think about it,” said Luciana, who is from New Jersey, while Peyton is from Georgia. “Both of us had a lot of other offers from other schools. There is so much that could have happened. It’s pretty cool to think that we ended up in the right place.”

The wedding was earlier this month outside of Asheville, North Carolina, and it definitely had a Gamecock-feel as the bride and groom exited the ceremony to “Sandstorm” with white rally towels waving from those in attendance. They’ll soon be off to Iceland for the honeymoon.

“We wanted to make it a once in a lifetime trip,” Peyton said.

“We’re going to live in a van for ten days and just travel up the coast of Iceland,” Luciana said. “We knew we didn’t want to sit on a beach because were both very active.”

The couple met during the summer preseason of 2017 and didn’t start dating until about a year later, but there is some discrepancy about their first actual meeting.

“I thought we met at a social event with the men and women’s soccer team,” Luciana said. “I was more worried about playing well and impressing my teammates because I was just a freshman. I was so nervous to compete. So, I guess I didn’t remember meeting him before that.”

“We definitely met before that,” Peyton said with a laugh. “The women’s team used to come to campus before the men for preseason. Some of us were back working or doing internships or training. So, there were only a handful of us in town, and we used to jump in with them for training.”

“Just those small moments we got to spend with each other as student-athletes, it was ultimately the first thing that bonded us together.”
Peyton Ericson  . 

Time management is a big part of being a student-athlete and making time for each other in some fashion was a priority.

“I always liked watching Peyton play,” Luciana said. “I know, it’s so cliché! He was a captain for his last two years. It was cool to see him so passionate about his sport and wearing Carolina across his chest.”

“Even though we were busy with our own seasons, we enjoyed the moments that we had together in between classes, in between training sessions, study rooms or whatever,” Peyton said. “Just those small moments we got to spend with each other as student-athletes, it was ultimately the first thing that bonded us together, but it was in those times that we got to dive deeper into our relationship and find out what else we had in common with each other that wasn’t just soccer.”

Peyton graduated in December 2018 with a degree in finance, while Luciana earned her degree in December of 2020 in sport and entertainment management and earned her master’s degree in the same field in 2022. He is working in software sales for Bluefin Payment Systems, and she is in exercise equipment sales for Sorinex. While their days wearing the garnet and black are over, the couple still likes to be active.

“We played in a men’s soccer league last year,” Luciana said. “I was allowed to play. We’re slowly venturing into other sports. We’re on a kickball team in town. We play a lot of pickleball and tennis. It’s so hard to play soccer after you have played at such a high level!”

“It’s so hard when you get kicked by someone who just wants to get a rise out of you,” Peyton added.

The couple still lives close to campus, and they’re happy to remain close to the place where they met.

“Columbia continues to grow, and we love being around campus,” Peyton said. “And Corinna (Luciana’s sister, who also plays soccer for the Gamecocks) still has two years of eligibility, so it’s a blessing to watch her games.”

“Yeah, we’re not leaving anytime soon!” Luciana said.

Peyton Ericson and Luciana Zullo wedding