The South Carolina men's soccer team brought in 10 freshmen in 2020, two of whom have an international background.
Peter Clement, a forward out of Denmark, played professionally for a club and for Denmark's U-17 and U-18 teams. These experiences, he said, "made [him] feel more mature and more ready to take the step abroad.”
The other international addition was a midfielder out of Hungary named Lorenzo Nagy. He also played for a club, which he said taught him to be professional at a young age.
The possibility of Clement playing collegiate soccer in America was first brought up by his club, and he was immediately interested.
Assistant coach Tyler Kettering led the recruitment efforts for the forward, which was all done virtually due to the coronavirus.
Clement said he “liked what [he] heard, and [he] liked the things [he] saw,” so he committed. Despite the limitations of online recruitment, he said he was "happy how it ended up.”
Nagy had the help of a recruiting company, which, among other things, created a highlight video to send to college coaches across the United States. This video attracted the attention of the Gamecock coaching staff, and assistant coach Justin Cook even attended one of his matches in Hungary prior to the COVID restrictions that limited Clement's recruitment process.
Nagy said he was lucky to be able to get to the States just one week before the virus hit, meaning he could be with the team in March.
Clement had to wait until fall to join the team and spent his first 14 days in Columbia in quarantine. He said that while it was hard, it also made him "more excited for the things to come.”
These international recruits joined a class that head coach Mark Berson said in an interview with Gamecocks Online was "very, very good."
The team itself is very young, according to Nagy, but has a lot of potential. Clement has seen growth during the team's five game fall season, he said.
"If we keep the hard work up, then it looks good for the future,” Clement said.
Berson said he believes in his young players' potential and realizes they need to develop.
"There’s no substitute for game experience,” Berson said.
Both players have seen action in all five of the fall contests, each even starting a few games.
Clement said he was pleased with his early performances but has a goal to do better every game.
He said he aims to make his mark on the team by "[scoring] a lot of goals and [making] some assists."
As a midfielder, Nagy said he believes his best asset is being able to "switch from defending to anything very quickly." He said he will utilize this strength to "control the game" and "set up the tempo."
He also said his ability to "make something out of nothing" will help him succeed in this league, which he said is more focused on physicality and speed than technique and passing, the latter two being more heavily stressed in Europe.
While both players' families are currently in Europe, they have maintained strong contact with their athletes. Both have been able to speak with the players at least once a week. They have even watched the games online, with neither family missing a single game.
Nagy said it was "weird" and "hard at first" to be so far away. Despite that, he said, he “loved it from the first moment."
"I felt like, 'Wow, that’s the place where I have to spend my next four years,'” Nagy said.
According to Berson, there will be increased playing time for this recruiting class as the season gets deeper. Clement and Nagy could find themselves with increasing roles.
“We’re going get a chance to see more and more of [the recruiting class],” Berson said.