Gamecock Soccer Hosts Mercer in NCAA Tournament Thursday
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina opens play in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship on Thursday versus Mercer. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks will be the first of a trio of NCAA Tournament games on tap for soccer fans at The Graveyard.
“The natural reaction is that you’re happy to play a team that you played in the regular season,” said Head Coach Mark Berson. “We know about them. They beat us in the regular season, so that’s certainly incentive for our players. They’re a very good team. Congratulations to them on winning the Southern Conference and getting into the NCAA Tournament. We’re expecting that this will be a really close game and a hard-fought game. I think our guys are ready. I think they’re confident, ready to go and anxious just to get on with the game on Thursday.
Mercer and Carolina faced off earlier this season on Aug. 30. The Bears won 3-2 in double overtime after scoring in the 103rd minute. The Gamecocks trailed 2-0, but fought back into the match with two second half goals to send it to extra time.
South Carolina’s 10-win season marks the 31st time under Berson the Gamecocks tallied double-digit wins.
Carolina will be making its 22nd all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Berson is tied with Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski for the most NCAA appearances among active NCAA Division I coaches.
Gates open at noon on Thursday at Stone Stadium. Tickets are $8 (adults) and $5 (youth). Cash only will be accepted for payment.
GAMECOCK QUICK HITS
– Mark Berson is the winningest active NCAA Division I coach, 5th on the all-time NCAA D1 list
– Berson is tied for the most NCAA Tournament appearances among active DI coaches with 22
– South Carolina is 16-21-2 (.436) all-time in the NCAA Tournament with an 11-10-3 (.521) record at the friendly confines of The Graveyard
– Carolina finished the season ranked No. 35 in the final RPI standings released by the NCAA on Nov. 15
– Nine student-athletes earned C-USA All-Conference honors, led by senior Danny Deakin, who was named to the first team for the second consecutive season
– Midfielder Kurtis Turner and forward Bjorn Gudjonsson earned second team All-C-USA honors
– Midfielder Koty Millard, defender Ive Burnett, goalkeeper William Pyle, defender Peyton Ericson and midfielder Julian Veen Uldal earned third team All-C-USA honors
– Veen Uldal and forward Luca Mayr were named to the C-USA All-Freshman team
– South Carolina had an eight-match unbeaten streak snapped in a 1-0 loss to No. 2 Wake Forest on Oct. 18
– The streak dated back to a 2-1 overtime win vs. Georgia Southern on Sept. 13.
– During the streak, Carolina outscored opponents 15-4 and pitched four shutouts
– Pyle was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 17 after posting back-to-back shutouts; Pyle had eight saves including five vs. UAB and a PK save in the 108th minute at FIU
– Pyle is 10-5-1 on the season with 60 saves and four shutouts; his .800 save percentage during the regular season ranked third in C-USA and his 0.91 goals against average tied for fourth in the conference
– Carolina picked up its biggest win of the season on Nov. 4, after downing No. 12 Kentucky on Senior Night at Stone Stadium; sophomore Andre Streete headed in the game-winner in the 86th minute on a Deakin corner kick; Gudjonsson scored the Gamecocks first goal in the 44th minute
– Carolina’s win over Furman on Sept. 20 was its first of the season over a ranked opponent, as the Paladins were slotted No. 18 by Soccer America
– Turner was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26 after scoring the game-winning goal at Furman and recording his second assist of the season vs. Georgia State
– The Gamecocks posted a season-high 27 shots and 11 shots on goal in their win vs. Georgia Southern
– Deakin (7G, 6A) leads the team in points with 20; Gudjonsson ranks second with 17 (8G, 1A)
– Mayr and Deakin are tied for the team lead in shots (48)
– South Carolina’s balanced offensive attack features five players with double-digit SOG: Deakin (19), Mayr (18), Walker (13), Turner (13) and Gudjonsson (10)
– Mayr scored his first career goal as a Gamecock vs. Mercer on Aug. 30
– Mayr tallied an individual single-game season-high five SOG vs. Georgia Southern
– Deakin leads the team with five game-winning goals, which tied for the regular season conference lead and ninth in the nation
The Bears, who are fresh off a Southern Conference tournament championship, are led by junior forward Will Bagrou, who was named the SoCon Player of the Year on Nov. 8. He leads the team in points (21), goals (8) and is tied for first on the team in assists (5). Bagrou is the SoCon active leader in career points with 63. He had a goal and an assist in the regular season matchup vs. Carolina on Aug. 30. Mercer’s balanced offensive attack features seven players with multiple goals. Conner Antley, Jordan Duru and Max Poore are tied for second on the team with four goals each. Antley also has five assists to rank second on the team with 13 points. Goalkeeper Jeremy Booth is 12-6-1 in the net with 52 saves. He has a .732 save percentage and 0.99 GAA.