LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the third Conference USA match of the season for both teams, South Carolina (4-5-3, 1-1-1 C-USA) and Kentucky (3-6-1, 1-1-1 C-USA) fought for 110 minutes, playing to a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon at the UK Soccer Complex. The overtime contest is the fifth of the season for the Gamecocks.
“Earning points on the road in Conference USA is always good; however, we came here to win,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “We weren’t able to come away with that result though. We’re facing a number of injuries. A number of our players have stepped up to play. Now we have to focus our attention on Wednesday night’s game against Florida Atlantic.”
Kentucky outshot the Gamecocks 28-11. The Wildcats put six of their 28 shots on goal in the match. South Carolina put 11 of their three shots on frame. Sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Torda returned to action after an injury, recording three shots to lead the Gamecocks. Kentucky freshman forward Kaelon Fox fired six shots on the afternoon, putting two on frame.
Between the posts, freshman Marco Velez hauled in six saves on his way to his second shutout of the season. For the Wildcats, sophomore Callum Irving collected three saves.
A second-minute header from senior forward J.P. Rafferty bounced off the crossbar to start the day for South Carolina. The Gamecocks earned a corner kick opportunity off the missed shot, but could not connect.
After the Gamecocks recorded the first shot of the match, the Wildcats fired the next seven shots. The most dangerous of the opportunities came in the 11th minute from Fox and in the 31st minute from sophomore midfielder Isak Krogstad. Velez was there both times to collect a save.
With less than three minutes remaining in the half, junior forward Asa Kryst got off a shot, but it was not on target and went wide of the goal. Freshman midfielder Kurtis Turner tried to get the Gamecocks on the board with less than a minute before the break, but his attempt was blocked by a Kentucky defender.
South Carolina came out of the break firing once again. Torda and freshman defender Koty Millard registered shots in the first six minutes after half time. Torda’s was the first shot on goal of the match for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks continued to be the aggressors in the second half. A shot from Turner was on frame for South Carolina in the 68th minute, but Irving saved it for the Wildcats. Less than a minute later, junior defender Mahamadou Kaba had a shot was blocked by a Kentucky defender.
South Carolina had back-to-back corner kick opportunities just after the shots from Turner and Kaba, but could not create a shot.
With less than four minutes remaining in regulation, senior forward Hunter Wyer looked to put the Gamecocks on the board. The Wildcats blocked the shot, keeping the match scoreless.
Kentucky freshman defender Charlie Reymann nearly gave Kentucky a lead with under three minutes left, but Velez was there again for the save.
After 90 minutes of play, the teams were scoreless and went to overtime.
Two and a half minutes into extra play, Wyer pushed a shot towards the net, but Irving was there for the save.
By the middle of the first overtime period, Kentucky found a way to pressure South Carolina. Starting at the 94:51 mark, the Wildcats registered six shots in the remaining time of the first OT period. Senior forward Brad Doliner and Fox had two shots apiece, but the Gamecocks were able to hold them off with the help of two saves by Velez.
The Wildcats continued to press in the second overtime period. South Carolina defenders stood strong, blocking all four Kentucky attempts in the first six minutes of the second overtime. Kentucky’s last two attempts of the period sailed high. The Gamecocks did register a shot in the final overtime period.
South Carolina continues C-USA play on Wednesday, Oct. 16, hosting Florida Atlantic at Stone Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.