Kryst nets only goal in South Carolina’s victory over Mercer
It was stalled nearly an hour and a half for a lightning delay, but the USC men’s soccer season has finally begun.
The drenched grass made for tough conditions, but South Carolina on Sunday beat Mercer 1-0 in their first of two exhibition matches this season.
USC’s goal came in the 54th minute after junior forward/midfielder Asa Kryst received a pass from just outside the box, slipped, got back up and managed to make a move past the defender to get a shot off. The ball took a slight deflection off a Mercer defender and into the back of the net.
Head coach Mark Berson was pleased with Kryst’s “extra” effort.
“He looked like a guy sliding at second base, popping back up, grabbing the ball and making the play,” Berson said. “It was well deserved on the night, because he created some other good chances as well.”
In both halves, the Gamecocks seemed comfortable and in control. They out-shot Mercer in the first half 10-4 and in the second half 13-2. USC was more active in the attacking third than its opponent, taking 9 corner kicks to Mercer’s 3.
The Gamecocks nearly took a lead early in the 14th minute after sophomore midfielder Jeff Torda streaked down the right end line and took a shot that Mercer junior goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh deflected to the other side of goal. Kryst got the rebound, but Ranjitsingh dove back to make a second save.
Mercer’s best chance came eight minutes later off a free kick that bounced off the wall and landed on the foot of Mercer sophomore Jason Sayers.
His low shot from the top of the box was first saved by USC redshirt sophomore goalie Robert Beebe and spilled out before Gamecock defenders were able to clear it. Beebe only had to make two saves on the night.
Mercer did not have a shot on goal in the second half. South Carolina sophomore Ryan Arambula was pleased with the defensive results.
“Last year, we would fall short in the end of games,” he said. “I think this year we are mentally more tough, like tonight we kept the shutout.”
Senior J.P. Rafferty and freshman Wesley Eads each had good chances for the Gamecocks in minutes 61 and 81 minutes, respectively. Rafferty’s effort from the top of the box was nicked away by Ranjitsingh, and Eads chipped the ball just over the net from near the right goalpost after the setup pass.
Both Berson and Kryst said they thought the team’s attacking rhythm was strong, but that there are still a few things the Gamecocks need to address.
“There were times at the end where I thought we could have kept the ball a little bit more,” Kryst said. “Overall, we did well attacking, but I think we should have scored a couple more goals.”
Berson said he thought it was a good opening effort and that he was pleased that the team kept focused during the weather delay.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to play somebody other than ourselves,” he said. “To get a shutout was important. I thought Mercer played really well; it was a good opening test for us.”
The Gamecocks will have their final exhibition match against Elon on Saturday at 7 p.m.