Coach Mark Berson faced the Clemson Tigers 48 times throughout his coaching career at the University of South Carolina — Thursday night could be his last.
"This is one of the absolute great rivalries in college soccer ... there's nothing in the ACC that comes close to this type of intensity and rivalry," Berson said. "It's a great event for our student athletes."
Berson and redshirt senior midfielder Kyle Gurrieri held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss Thursday's match against Clemson. Due to the cutoff of interconference play, this might be one of the only times this year a Gamecock team faces Clemson.
Many of the team's important players were injured for last season, including Gurrieri, who only played six games last year and two the year before. Gurrieri has one goal this season, which he scored last week against Georgia State.
Berson said he made sure that his players didn't let the rivalry between the Gamecocks and the Tigers get to their heads.
"It's another big game, not only because it's Clemson, just because it's another game," Gurrieri said.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, teams were not able to scout teams this offseason and are going in blind, especially against teams who haven't played yet. The team is going to have to rely on past games against the Tigers for strategy, according to Berson.
"Very aggressive front-pressing front six ... we were able to break that pressure a few times [last year], and when you do that, you can create some great opportunities," Berson said. "We play a very, very similar style."
Because Thursday is Clemson's opening match, Berson said scouting was particularly difficult but the team is prepared for anything.
Gurrieri said there is good chemistry among the team.
"[There is] a lot of communication and just reading off each other's body language and where we're going to force a play," Gurrieri said. "Just translates off the field. We're good friends."
The Gamecocks and Tigers are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Stone Stadium.