During a weekend which was thought to be a potential mid-season turnaround, the men's soccer team lost a heart breaking 1-0 game to conference rival UAB.
After getting its first conference victory of the season Thursday night with a 5-4 victory over Florida International, South Carolina dropped to 6-6 overall for the season with a 1-3 conference record after the loss Saturday night.
Playing No. 21 UAB tight all game, the Blazers scored the only goal of the game on a shot that rebounded off the post in the 71st minute from junior forward Freddy Ruiz, the Conference USA preseason offensive player of the year.
Three minutes later, the Gamecocks had a great opportunity to tie up the match, but junior midfielder Ryan Arambula’s header went high over the goal post.
The Gamecocks gave UAB all they had, as they outshot the team 13-11 and lead in corner kicks 9-8. But in the end, they couldn’t get one past Blazers’ goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky and his three save day. Gamecock sophomore goalkeeper Marco Velez recorded one save on the day.
The Sophomore midfielder had two shots on target, but both were saved by Kaminsky.
After the game, head coach Mark Berson was disappointed with the results but pleased with his team’s efforts.
“It’s disappointing. I think we played well, UAB played well. Last year, we beat them down there 4-3," he said. "Every year it’s a close game with them. I thought that both teams played really well."
Berson also gave praise to the exceptional play from Kuzminsky.
“Their goalkeeper made a couple of spectacular saves at the end to preserve it for them, which a good team has to have happen to them. Overall, they capitalized on their opportunity — they didn’t have that many on the night — and I think we had a few, but we weren’t able to capitalize, and that was the difference,” he said.
Though the wins may not be coming South Carolina's way, they've shown improvements each week.
“I think we attacked better tonight than we did when we scored five goals against FIU. I thought our speed of play moving from the middle third to the front third was much better tonight, “ Berson said. “It was difficult to lose tonight, we’re not happy with that, but it’s just a good game between two teams, and they found the goal tonight, and we didn’t.”
South Carolina remains near the bottom of Conference USA with its 1-3 conference record and will need to turn it around, as the bulk of their conference play remains on the schedule.
Injuries have played a big role this season for the Gamecocks as many of their key players, such as senior goalkeeper Robert Beebe, senior forward Asa Kryst, and juniors Wesley Eads and Devin L’Amoreaux.
“We’re looking at things all the time. Hamilton is out with an injury now, Asa is still out, Kevin Walker is out for the season, so we’ve lost some attacking players that we previously hoped would be available to us,” Berson said. “Right now, we’re making some adjustments, so we’re looking at different things.”
South Carolina’s next game is Friday at Florida Atlantic.