COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of South Carolina men's soccer team kicked off its 35th season of varsity competition with a 1-0 shutout versus intrastate rival College of Charleston on Friday night in front of a large crowd at Stone Stadium. Redshirt-sophomore midfielder Stephen Anderson scored the game winner for South Carolina in the 73rd minute.
"A very good start for our team," South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. "We got better as the match went on. We were able to bring some pressure and link up our passes to create some opportunities. We should have finished some very clear-cut opportunities tonight and we're going to have to work on that. Credit College of Charleston, they are a very solid team. This is a good start to the season for us."
The match was physical from the start. Each team was called for 13 fouls in the contest, while the Gamecocks collected three yellow cards and the Cougars four.
Both teams tallied four shots on goal in the match, with Charleston holding a slight 10-9 edge in overall shots. Anderson's tally, which was unassisted, was the first of his career. The Carolina defensive line of seniors Mike Mangotic and Kevin Stam, and juniors Trevor Hubbard and Eric Martinez, along with second-year starting goalkeeper Alex Long collected the shutout. Long was credited with three saves in the fourth shutout of his career.
Charleston's Ralphie Lundy led the squad with four shots, including two on goal, while netminder Kees Heemskerk collected three saves.
The match proved physical from the start, with both sides collecting a caution in the 11th minute, and Carolina called for another just two minutes later. Neither team provided much offensive in the first 45 minutes of action. Charleston's Sam Redmond hit a shot high in the 13th minute, and teammate Sean de Silva hit a strike wide 10 minutes later.
The Cougars' best chance of the opening half came in the 29th minute on a strike from Troy Peterson. After a Charleston forward tracked a clear attempt from Long, Peterson sent a well-placed shot towards the right side of frame, but Stam cleared the ball off the goal line to hold the score at 0-0.
Carolina posted its first shot of the match just before halftime. Freshman midfielder Devin L'Amoreaux hit the first shot of his collegiate career, but the strike was just high of the cross bar and the contest stood scoreless at the half.
Both teams were more active on the offensive side of the pitch during the second 45 minutes of play. Anderson hit a header just wide minutes into the half, and sophomore forward Snoopy Davidson narrowly missed on consecutive chances with 30 minutes to play.
Long made a stellar save, diving to his right on a shot from de Silva moments before Anderson would score the game winner for Carolina. His tally came from well past 40-yards from goal. The shot was centered perfectly on frame, and hit off the hands of Heemskerk before finding the back of the net for the 1-0 score. The Gamecock defense continued excellent play the remainder of the match to earn the shutout.
Carolina continues non-conference play when it hosts the annual Gamecock Classic next week. The Gamecocks begin tournament action versus No. 15 St. John's on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m., before facing No. 20 Northwestern on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.