The Daily Gamecock

Men's soccer prepared for last regular season game

South Carolina’s men’s soccer team will travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the Lobos Friday night at 9 p.m. in the last game of the regular season for both teams.

It will be a battle to see who can get the upper hand in seeding for the Conference USA tournament that runs from Nov. 12 to Nov. 16. A win could launch the Gamecocks (8-8, 3-4 Conference USA) into fourth place in the conference should other league matches go their way. New Mexico (10-5-1, 3-4 Conference USA) and South Carolina are in a tie for sixth place and have both clinched one of the seven spots in the postseason conference tourney.  

Redshirt freshman forward Mikkel Knudsen helped the Gamecocks achieve the berth in the last match with an 89th minute free-kick goal from 30 yards out at Old Dominion for the 1-0 victory. Perhaps it’s a good thing South Carolina is traveling to end the season since the team has gone undefeated on the road in conference thus far while losing every league contest at home.

Still, going up against the No. 25 Lobos will be a different beast than the Gamecocks’ previous home matches.

The team had the weekend off because head coach Mark Berson wants to keep them fresh.

“At this time of the year, the main thing is to keep the players healthy,” he said. “Not having a game over the weekend has helped us heal up and prepare for the upcoming match.”

At this point in the season however South Carolina has not lost their edge, but according to Berson, the team’s main focus right now is technique.

“We are working on things we do well as a team to get sharp,” he said. “Not necessarily adding anything, but just getting sharper and ready to execute our techniques.”

The Gamecocks will need to be at their best game against the Lobos who recently beat Old Dominion 4-0, having way less difficulty to come away with goals than South Carolina did.

Friday night will also be senior night in the Lobos stadium and with six seniors on the team, New Mexico should come out emotionally charged and ready to fight.

Gamecock senior Ryan Freiburger will also be playing in his last regular season match along with fellow seniors Jeff Addai, Robert Beebe, Mahamoudou Kaba, Asa Kryst, Dan Traxler and Braeden Troyer.  

Freiburger said they will all have to move past the emotion that comes with the game and focus on the task at hand.

“This could be a big break for our last game,” Freiburger said. “So we have been having harder practices and more focus to try and get ready and to be prepared.”

In the regular season meeting last season between the two teams, the Gamecocks won 1-0, but New Mexico still advanced to the NCAA Final Four.

“They have a very good team and especially being on the road on their field, the game will be tight just like last year,” Berson said.

Berson is hoping for a two-game win streak heading into the Conference-USA tournament.

Freiburger thinks his team will be ready to take home one of those top four spots for next week.

“Every time we go out, we feel confident,” Freiburger said. “I feel like we have a lot of guys who can make a difference out there in the game and we can make that difference when we all put our efforts out there.”


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