South Carolina men’s soccer started its season with a 1-1 draw over Ohio State on Thursday night in the Wolstein Classic.
The Gamecocks came out slow in the first half, conceding eight shots, three corner kicks and a goal. The Buckeyes capitalized on a chance in the 16th minute coming from Chris Dowling who struck a shot right outside the box to give Ohio State the early lead.
“We started a little bit slower than we planned,” South Carolina head coach Tony Annan said Friday. “We allowed them to dominate the game in the first twenty minutes which cost us the goal, but after that, I think we got into it.”
At halftime, Annan made substitutions in an effort to calm the game down and regain control.
Soon into the second half, the Gamecocks found the equalizer. In the 51st minute, senior midfielder Laurits Lillemose played a ball in behind for redshirt senior forward John Eskay to run onto. Eskay then used his pace to drive down the sideline and deliver a left-footed service into the box for sophomore forward Harrison Myring to score.
“We’ve been preaching for (Myring) to get into those areas,” Annan said. “He got in the box, got in a good area and slotted it home very well.”
With the addition of 18 new players, the Gamecocks have worked to welcome the new faces and encourage them to buy into the team's culture. The team has participated in various team-building exercises, including a visit to a local army base.
One new face on the field Thursday night was freshman goalkeeper Ben Alexander. The Canada native made his first debut and start in between the posts for the Gamecocks. Alexander made seven saves and limited the Buckeyes to one goal.
“He’s coming off surgery,” Annan said. “He felt good enough to go and we wanted to get him involved as quick as we can … he made some fantastic saves and he was a pretty calm influence on the back four.”
In preparation for the next game, the team looks to start quicker, keep possession more and be relaxed on the ball. The game against Ohio State was frantic and transitional, which is something the Gamecocks look to change in their next match-up.
Up next, the Gamecocks take on Dayton on Sunday at noon to wrap up their road matches in Ohio.