South Carolina men’s soccer defeated Queens 3-1 at Stone Stadium on Tuesday night. The Gamecocks scored three goals in the first 30 minutes to take control of the match before conceding one right before halftime.
“We came out like a firework, lot of energy, scored three goals quickly,” head coach Tony Annan said after the win. “So, I was happy with the first 25 minutes.”
Junior forward Adam Luckhurst led the way for South Carolina, scoring his second and third goals of the season, which make him the team leader in goals this year. The defense was stifling for stretches and conceded minimal opportunities to Queens with any chances that did materialize handled easily by freshman goalkeeper Ben Alexander.
“I think as a team, the whole team has a good mentality when it comes to defending. Our press has been very good and our willingness to fight, you know, the intensity of our fight has helped us deny teams opportunities,” Annan said.
South Carolina opened the match on the attack and earned a corner just five minutes in. The corner was swung in from the right flag and after pinballing in the box, freshman defender Junior Saint Juste curled a shot with the outside of his right foot to beat the Queens keeper. Saint Juste’s goal to open the scoring came in the sixth minute.
The Gamecocks recorded seven shots before the visitors were able to fire one towards goal.
Luckhurst made the most of his chances. In the 20th minute he doubled South Carolina’s lead with a low shot to the far corner. Junior forward Peter Clement and redshirt senior defender Will Crain each earned an assist on the second goal of the match.
Just four minutes later, Luckhurst would again find the back of the net, this time finishing a rebound from Clement’s shot who was awarded his second assist of the night for his involvement.
“Peter did all the work, I mean, winning a header against a big center back is impressive and I just got on the end of it, just anticipated it. But it felt great just to get two goals, feels fantastic,” Luckhurst said.
Just as the Gamecocks seemed to be running away with the victory, Queens began to play its way into the match. The visitors were much more active in the fifteen minutes before halftime and found a goal from sophomore forward Mario Goic with just over a minute remaining in the first period.
South Carolina entered halftime with a nine to five lead in shots and a two-goal advantage. While the visiting Royals earned three corner kicks to the Gamecocks' two, the home team made its chances count and scored on half of its set plays from the corner flag.
After the half, both teams continued to press in the attack but neither squad was able to manufacture a decisive move. The second half featured end-to-end play, but the rhythm of the game was regularly disrupted by yellow cards from both teams. Through 12 minutes of play following the hour mark of the match, five yellow cards were handed out with two given to the Gamecocks and three shown to Queens.
Annan said he has been impressed by his team since preseason but knows that more consistency will be necessary as the team enters Sun Belt Conference play.
“We’ve got to be more consistent, and we’ve got to do it for longer,” Annan said. “We’ve got to maintain that standard for longer against better teams which are coming down the pipe quickly in the conference.”
South Carolina (4-3-1) now turns its focus to its first Sun Belt match against Georgia Southern on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Stone Stadium.