The Daily Gamecock

Men's soccer looks to rebuild .500 record


Gamecocks take on Georgia State Tuesday night

Following a Sept. 7 win over Mercer, the South Carolina men’s soccer team hit a high they haven’t reached in nearly three years.  

The 3-0 Gamecocks were ranked No. 17 in the following edition of the NSCAA poll, breaking into the rankings for the first time since the end of the 2011 regular season.

Since then, South Carolina has dropped four of five games.  

The team will attempt to get over .500 again Tuesday night when it hosts Georgia State at Stone Stadium. Three of the Gamecocks’ losses have come by one goal, and two of those three — including Friday’s 1-0 loss in the conference opener to Marshall — were in overtime.

South Carolina outshot the Thundering Herd 19-9 in the loss, but much to the chagrin of head coach Mark Berson, the team could not capitalize.

“It was a game that we dominated,” Berson said. “I felt like we had all the possession, all the attacks, but we didn’t finish and we didn’t put it away.”

The Gamecocks held an even more decisive advantage in the second half, outshooting Marshall 9-2. Several of the team’s chances were clean, but were frequently struck over the net.

Marshall took advantage in overtime on a play Berson called “a bad mistake,” citing miscommunication among the back line defenders. The loss was only South Carolina’s third in 10 Conference-USA openers.

Moving forward, Berson has made his team aware that the difference between it being 4-4 and being 7-1 has come down to lack of execution on a few key plays.

“This is still a work in progress one game to the next,” Berson said. “We were making runs before we were doing the things we needed to do in the attack but we weren’t sharp. We weren’t executing with the same level of urgency we needed to.”

Tuesday's contest with Georgia State looks to favor the Gamecocks on paper. South Carolina has shutout the Panthers in six-consecutive meetings and have won nine of 10 overall. However, Georgia State is the hotter team this time around. After an 0-3 start, the Panthers have won their last four.

If South Carolina is to get back on track, it needs a breakthrough in its offensive execution. The ball needs to go in the net, and there is no way around it.

Panther senior goalie C.J. Cochran has been a staple for his team, but he is not a brick wall. He has shutout his opponent just once and sports a 1.71 goals against average.

This opens the door for that aforementioned offensive breakthrough the Gamecocks so desperately need. 

Sophomore midfielder Kurtis Turner, who is tied with sophomore defender Ive Burnett for the team lead with two goals, is a likely suspect to fuel an improved offensive performance.

None of Turner’s three shots were on goal Friday night, but he has been able to consistently find and make space for himself as evidenced by his team-leading 17 shots and eight shots on goal.

Berson maintains that no overhaul is needed for his team’s offensive game, but rather to maintain focus in the crucial moments.

“So much of our game is about rhythm and about timing,” Berson said. “The movement patterns are there, the recognition I think is there, everything I think is laid in pretty well right now but it’s a matter of really going out and executing.”


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