COLUMBIA, S.C. – With just three minutes remaining in regulation, freshman midfielder Kurtis Turner scored the game-winner for South Carolina (5-5-3, 2-1-1 C-USA) to secure a 2-1 Conference USA victory over Florida Atlantic (6-2-2, 1-2-1 C-USA) Wednesday night in Stone Stadium. Junior midfielder Braeden Troyer also scored the Gamecocks, netting a penalty kick in the 26th minute.
“I was really proud of our guys from start to finish. From wire to wire tonight, we were in control,” said South Carolina head coach Mark Berson of the conference win. “I thought we played very, very well in the attack. Jeff (Torda) did a great job to get inside and earn the penalty. We kind of gifted them a goal, which was unfortunate, but sometimes those things are going to happen.
“The most important thing was the response. We never hung our head, we kept roaring at them. Nothing bothered the guys tonight. Not giving up a goal, not being denied on some chances. They just kept coming at them and finally earned the game-winner.”
The Gamecocks dominated play, putting 11 of their 22 shots on goal. Turner led the team with four shots, including two on frame in addition to his tally. Freshman midfielder Koty Millard and senior forward Hunter Wyer assisted on Turner’s goal. The only shot on frame for the Owls was their lone goal of the match as South Carolina limited FAU to just seven shots on the night. The Gamecocks also won the corner kick battle, earning nine chances to the Owls’ two.
Between the posts, freshman Marco Velez earned the win, his third of the season. For Florida Atlantic, freshman Theo Jamilloux hauled in eight saves, but was saddled with the loss.
Looking for an early lead in the ninth minute, Torda took a corner kick for the Gamecocks. His ball found junior defender Mahamoudou Kaba inside the six-yard box. The defender nearly snuck the ball past the keeper, but Jamilloux found a way to collect the save.
Turner looked to send a ball into the box in the 16th minute, but a FAU defender deflected it. Ive Burnett was able to wrangle the deflection and took a solid shot on frame. He did not surprise Jamilloux who corralled the save.
Trying to take the lead, sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Torda was taken down by an Owl near the endline inside of the 18-yard box. The foul resulted in a penalty kick. Troyer took the penalty kick for the Gamecocks and calmly netted his second goal of the season for the 1-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later FAU, leveled the match. Junior forward Ryan Price picked up a misplayed ball in FAU’s own attacking third and sent it over to sophomore midfielder Ronald Garcia. Garcia took a hard shot that caught Velez off guard to make the score 1-1.
The teams went into the half tied, but with South Carolina controlling play. The Gamecocks held a 12-3 advantage in shots and had maintained possession for a majority of the match.
South Carolina was able to continue their handle on the match in the second half. The flurry of offense was just unable to finish an opportunity.
In the 79th minute, Millard sliced a cross across the six to Torda. Torda controlled the ball and looked to put the Gamecocks ahead 2-1, but Jamilloux kept the ball from crossing the goal line and the match stayed knotted at 1-1.
With just three minutes remaining, Millard took the ball deep and found Wyer near the top of the six-yard box. Wyer one-touched over to Turner who punched the ball in past the far post for his first career tally.
The Owls got a shot off in the final two minutes of play, but it was not a true threat, and South Carolina earned the 2-1 win.
The Gamecocks continue play in C-USA on Saturday, Oct. 19, when they travel to Marshall. The match is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. South Carolina then returns home after a week off to face New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.