After a hard-fought 90 minutes, the Gamecocks lost 2-0 to Marshall, the defending conference champion, on Saturday afternoon at Stone Stadium.
It was a slow first half for the Gamecock offense, with only two corner kicks and no shots on goal. The defense held strong for the first 45 minutes of play, leaving Marshall with six shots, but none on frame.
“I thought the first half — pretty even in many respects,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “The big thing for us is transition into the attack. I think defensively we did very, very well. We worked hard.”
Senior midfielder Jared Gulden stepped up to play a full 90 minutes at center back in the place of freshman Sekou Soumah. He made several defensive tackles and won the majority of his aerial battles.
During the second half, momentum started to shift in favor of the Herd. In the 55th minute, Marshall’s Vitor Dias pounced on a loose ball from right outside the 18-yard box to give the game its first goal.
“It wasn’t from a lack of effort; it wasn’t from a lack of focus; it wasn’t from a lack of determination. Those are three major things that we can count on from our guys,” Berson said. “In the end, the second half, we made a couple of defensive errors and they pounced on it.”
Sophomore forward Brian Banahan had the best chances on the day, with two shots in the second half. Teammates Justin Kopay, Logan Hitzeman, Andrew Rosenbaum, and Mark Roby also had 1 shot each.
“We need to work on being a bit more composed on the ball and opening them up a little bit better,” Berson said. “Those are the things we work on every day, so it’s just a matter of keeping, working, and improving and getting better game by game.”
The match became more physical as the minutes went by. South Carolina and Marshall had a combined 29 fouls and 5 yellow cards.
In the 67th minute, Dias struck again to give him a brace on the day. He netted a clean volley to improve Marshall’s lead to 2-0.
Despite the loss, Berson said there are some good takeaways from today's matchup. “For our guys, I think there was a lot of good in the day. The effort was tremendous and we'll look at this and we'll learn from this. We put a young group out there, we'll just keep getting better and better,” Berson said.
South Carolina is now 6-4 on the season. Next, the team will hit the road to face Old Dominion University on March 14 at 2 p.m.