The Gamecocks men’s soccer team defeated the Winthrop Eagles 4-1 Sunday night behind strong possession and smart shot selection, giving new head coach Tony Annan his first career win.
Annan kept it simple when describing how he felt after earning the win.
“[I’m] very pleased for the team as a whole, as a collective, to get their first win in the stadium under a new coaching staff,” Annan said.
South Carolina stayed locked in from start to finish in this game — the team took smart shots and progressed down the field with ease.
The Gamecocks controlled the possessions for most of the first half and kept the ball on their side of the field, allowing South Carolina to control the pace of play.
To combat this, Winthrop played physically and aggressively. The Eagles constantly used their bodies to break up plays and gain possessions.
This style of play awarded them two yellow cards, but Winthrop managed to earn itself more possessions.
“We knew that Winthrop would come out there with a lot of [physicality],” sophomore forward Peter Clement said. “As long as we play together and work hard, I think we’ll get back to the plan, and we did.”
South Carolina got multiple looks at the goal in the first half. The team took 10 shots with 6 on goal. Junior forward Brian Banahan got an open look in the 11th minute but could not capitalize.
Later in the 27th minute, junior midfielder Parker League took an open shot that bounced off the post, leaving fans groaning in their seats.
The Gamecocks managed to capitalize off good looks twice in the first half. The first goal came in the 19th minute when sophomore midfielder Lorenzo Nagy scored in the middle of a cluster in front of the goal.
Clement scored the team’s second goal in a stylish manner with a diving header ending in a somersault.
“We came through the right side of the field, and I saw an opening in the box, and I came first to it,” Clement said. “From there on I think we just kept the focus on ourselves, and stayed together and worked as a unit."
South Carolina had a 2-1 lead heading into halftime.
The Eagles played with more urgency to start the second half. They quickly closed the gap in the shot count putting pressure on South Carolina’s defense.
The Gamecocks’ defense stepped up to the challenge and locked in, successfully preventing Winthrop from scoring another goal.
“At the end of the day I think the team and the individuals did well to weather the storm, keep composed, and didn’t give anything away,” Annan said.
The hustle the Eagles’ started the second half with diminished as time went on. South Carolina’s ability to progress the ball down the field left Winthrop’s defense in a scramble.
The Gamecocks scored two more goals in the second half to give them a comfortable lead for the rest of the match.
South Carolina earned its first win of the season, putting it at 1-1. The team will look to win its second game on Friday when it plays against their rival, Clemson, at 7 p.m.