The Daily Gamecock

Men's soccer delivers a W in home opener

The Gamecocks began their 2015 campaign against Mercer in a rematch of last season’s matchup, a game South Carolina won 2-0. Mercer returned nine starters from last year’s Southern Conference regular season title team, including 85 percent of its goal production. South Carolina bring back 16 total members of the 2014 Conference USA runner-up team, but lost 53 percent of their goal production. However, junior midfielder Kurtis Turner stepped up in the preseason, scoring three goals in the three games he played.

First half

Mercer began the game strong, pressing the Gamecocks’ defense constantly. After a few corners, the Gamecocks pushed the ball up. Mercer still threatened with a back and forth play.

A yellow card from Mercer Ian Antley allowed the Gamecocks to hold possession and stymied Mercer’s offensive pressure. The Gamecocks pushed forward after the yellow and won a foul outside Mercer’s box at the 18th minute. Freshman Ben Davidson stepped up to the ball, made his run and curled in free kick to put the Gamecocks up 1-0.

The Gamecocks continued their attack for the final minutes of the first half, but alas, the teams went into half with South Carolina on top, 1-0.

On the half, South Carolina and Mercer looked even statistically. The Gamecocks had six shots (three of which were on target), two corners and seven fouls while the Bears also had six shots (three on goal), three corners and eight fouls. Mercer’s Kobe Perez had three of his shots blocked by South Carolina defenders, one of which would have gone in if a defender wasn’t protecting the goal line.

Second half

At the beginning of the half, Turner sulked around the midfield, not playing too far up but not dropping back when Mercer was on the offensive. This allow him to play more of a playmaker position by keeping the ball up the pitch. He delivered an over-the-top pass in the 50th to senior Jeffrey Torda, and the forward took the ball in the box only to bounce his shot off the far post.

The Gamecocks came back down the field shortly after with junior Danny Deakin leading the way. He dribbled his way in the box with Mercer defenders on his tail and crossed the ball close to the goal line to Torda. Torda finished with authority, ripping the ball into the back of the net for his first of the season.

Feeling the desperation, Mercer stepped up their game by going full attack. The Bears pushed the ball with multiple free kicks and corners. Finally, in the 82nd minute, sophomore Will Bagrou made a cross through a congested South Carolina box to an open Jordan Duru who slotted the ball into the net. Mercer was back in the game, 2-1 with 7 minutes to play.

Mercer threatened again in the 89th when Ian Antley powered a header towards the goal, but it steered wide left. The Gamecocks won the game 2-1 with a total of 10 shot (four on goal), four corners, 16 fouls and five saves.

Man of the Match

True freshman Ben Davidson in his first game for the Gamecocks played exceptional. Playing for Strake Jesuit High School in Texas before becoming a Gamecock, the Scotland native scored the Gamecocks’ first goal of the season. His free kick was perfect; it would have been difficult for any goalie to make that save. Not only did he score, but the defender also manned his position well. Between the one-on-ones and corner kicks, Davidson marked his man and didn’t allow him to get past.