The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Gamecock men’s soccer holds on to an early lead against Mercer

<p>Sophomore Justin Kopay keeps up with the ball and holds back his opponent. Kopay was able to dribble the ball further and pass it to a teammate.</p>

Sophomore Justin Kopay keeps up with the ball and holds back his opponent. Kopay was able to dribble the ball further and pass it to a teammate.

The Gamecock men’s soccer team earned a 2-1 victory against Mercer on Tuesday night.

It was the early offensive pressure South Carolina placed against the Bears that led the Gamecocks to victory. The second half told a different story for Carolina’s offense, but their defense did enough in the end to secure the win. 

First half

Early on in the first half, both teams were trading blows. However, it was the Gamecocks who kept the momentum throughout the entire half.

Only 20 minutes in, the Gamecocks had logged three shots compared to the Bears' one shot. Despite the minor statistical difference, it was Gamecocks who had control early with a series of cross attempts. After several failed crosses, they were finally able to connect and score, courtesy of a high left shot by junior forward Logan Frost.

The Gamecocks needed another three shots before they could cash in for their second goal. Consistent crossing yet again led to another Gamecock goal, this time coming from graduate midfielder Jared Gulden, as he shot it into the lower left back of the net. 

Towards the end of the half, the Bears were appearing to get their footing as the Gamecocks offense appeared very fatigued following their frequent attacks. The Bears spent the most of the last ten minutes on the attack, moving the ball smoothly up the field and keeping it out of their defensive end. The Gamecocks defense came prepared though and held its own through a few corner kick deflections and well-timed tackles to bring the two-goal lead into halftime.

Second half

The on-goal shot attempts slowed down significantly for the Gamecocks in the second half, going from nine shots in the first to three shots in the second. That being said, the Bears didn’t see much of a change either as they only registered one more goal shot in the second half than they did in the first half (four compared to three). 

Throughout the second half, the Gamecocks generally appeared tired. The Bears scored in part due to the Gamecocks' lackadaisical style of play, and by taking advantage of a sloppy pass out the Gamecocks box for their lone goal of the night. 

In the end though, it was the Gamecocks rugged defense that held the lead and secured the victory. Two of the Bears’ final shots came in the last five minutes of the game, but the Gamecocks successfully blocked both attempts. When it was all said and done, the Gamecocks managed to outlast their sluggish second half offensive performance and break their four-game losing streak.

Post-game

“We come out like a firework and then we fizzle out a little bit,” head coach Tony Annan said. “Second half, they changed their shift and we struggled with it a bit… we managed to get the result, but we didn’t play particularly well in the second half.”

The Gamecocks are now 2-4 on the season. They will play again Saturday, Sept. 25 in a conference matchup against Charlotte at 7 p.m. on the road. 


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