The South Carolina men’s soccer team was plagued by mistakes against No. 4 Clemson on its way to losing 5-0 on Friday night. The Gamecocks saw two players receive red cards and get sent off in the final 10 minutes of the first half and were outmatched and outmanned for the remainder of the contest.
Clemson began the match on the attacking foot, recording six shots before the Gamecocks had their first attempt, but the visitors would go on to settle into the game. That rhythm was interrupted when a strong challenge by sophomore defender Jake O’Connor in the 36th minute was met by the referee with a yellow card, his second of the night after an early booking in the 16th minute and a subsequent red card and dismissal from the field.
The Gamecocks dropped back to manage the man disadvantage but were again dealt a blow just six minutes later when sophomore midfielder Jordan Matthews received his second yellow and was also given a red card minutes before halftime.
“It was looking like it was going to be a very good game of football, whenever you go one man down it’s difficult but to go two men down is virtually impossible to get a result,” new head coach Tony Annan said. “But I was incredibly proud of my boys and how they dug in.”
The Tigers recorded 13 shots in the first half and only allowed five but were able to establish dominance offensively in the second half as they enjoyed virtually all of the possession and finally opened the scoring in the 66th minute. Sophomore midfielder Ousmane Sylla scored the opener and was quickly followed by two goals from junior forward Mohamed Seye in the 70th and 81st minutes to secure the victory.
An exhausted South Carolina defense conceded two more goals in the 87th and 89th minutes to freshman forward Tim Ströbeck and senior midfielder Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador respectively. Clemson finished with a 32 to five advantage in shots, with 19 coming in the second half alone and earned 12 corners while only conceding two.
“It’s pretty impossible to outmatch such a great team like Clemson at their home stadium, which was fantastic tonight, the fanbase and Clemson are a very, very, very good team," Annan said after the game. "To do that with eight men and not 11 is nigh on impossible."
Annan was, however, encouraged by the response he saw from his squad in the face of adversity.
“The guys, you could see they were galvanized, they were positive, they had a go, they came out and they stuck to the plan and they did really, really well," Annan said. "I couldn’t say anything more about them and how happy I am with them and their character. Massive positives for me.”
Annan and the Gamecocks will look to get their season back on track as they return to Columbia for a four game homestand which will begin with a matchup against Presbyterian on Tuesday, September 7.