South Carolina fell 1-0 to Division II Lander University on Wednesday night in the Gamecocks' lone exhibition match of the spring season.
Lander struck in the 32nd minute with a goal from sophomore forward Max McNulty. Freshman winger Marco Gueli sent a cross in from the left sideline that met McNulty’s foot for a volleyed goal at the far post.
The second half started with an almost fresh squad for the Gamecocks, with head coach Mark Berson trying out new player combinations on the field to see what would work.
“Tonight was an opportunity for, really, both teams to learn a little bit about themselves,” Berson said. “We were able to play everybody on the roster that's healthy tonight, and that was good.”
The game started off strong for the Gamecocks with five unanswered shots in the first 18 minutes, but they couldn’t keep up the offensive pressure, enduring seven shots from Lander in the next 14 minutes. The last of those seven shots found the net for the game's only goal.
Berson continued to talk about the new combinations of players he was trying out and praised both attacking sets he played in the first and second half.
The main theme of the second half for the Gamecocks was inconsistency.
“We’ve got to be more consistent,” Berson explained. “We missed entirely too many open passes for us tonight and we’ve got to clean that up."
Not every aspect of the night was negative for the Gamecocks, as Berson said the team strung together some nice play in the second half.
Wednesday was a learning experience for the Gamecocks. Berson said he plans to use what the team learned from this match and increase the speed of play going into the season.
South Carolina is set to reopen regular season play against the University of North Florida at home on Sunday at 5 p.m.