Columbia, S.C. – Sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Torda gave South Carolina (1-0-0) a 1-0 season-opening victory over East Tennessee State (0-1-0) on Friday night at Stone Stadium.
“I was really pleased. East Tennessee State is a good team and they have a lot of talent. They are an older, experienced team while we have a younger group. So for the first game of the year, it’s a big test to play against a team like them, but we did well. We got the goal and we had a couple other opportunities that we weren’t able to finish. Overall, it was a very good win against a very good team.” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said of the home win.
The Gamecocks edged the Buccaneers 9-6 in shots. South Carolina put five of their strikes on frame, with just one ETSU shot logged on goal. East Tennessee State was awarded three corner kicks to the Gamecocks’ two. South Carolina’s sophomore keeper Robert Beebe kicked off the season with a shutout, posting one save on the night, while Buccaneer netminder Ryan Coulter was saddled with the loss despite saving four Gamecock shots.
Carolina’s first scoring threat of the night came just four minutes into the match. Freshman midfielder Kurtis Turner hit a one-time volley from just outside the 18-yard box, which ETSU’s Coulter blocked, but directly into the path of Torda. The sophomore placed an attempt to the left side of frame, but Coulter scrambled to hold his line and make the diving save.
After an ETSU foul with 22 minutes left in the opening half, sophomore midfielder Ryan Arambula nearly scored on the ensuing free kick. Arambula sent a high shot towards frame, which Coulter just got a hand on to send the strike into the crossbar. Off the rebound, senior forward J.P. Rafferty looked for the far post, but Coulter once again held his line and the Gamecocks were awarded a corner kick.
Torda scored the first tally of the 2013 campaign in the 26th minute on a rocket to the far post. After stealing the ball from an ETSU defender, Torda looked for frame, hitting a shot to the far post past the outstretched hands of Coulter for a 1-0 Carolina advantage.
Just before the half, Gamecock freshman striker Hamilton Carlin hit a shot directly at Coulter, who made his fourth save of the match to hold the score at 1-0 entering the break. Carolina held a 7-1 shot advantage in the opening half, including a 5-0 upperhand in shots on goal.
Buccaneer defender Nate Hodges had an attempt at the far post in the 62nd minute, but the ball rolled over the endline for a Carolina goalkick. Torda nearly got free behind the ETSU defense moments later on a well-placed through ball from Arambula, but an ETSU defender made a tackle to deflect the ball out of bounds to halt the threat.
Beebe collected his first save of the match on a strike from ETSU midfielder Donte Brangman in the 72nd minute. Brangman collected a loose ball within the six-yard box, but the attempt was directly at Beebe.
White nine minutes to play, Carlin was fouled by the ETSU goalkeeper just outside of the 18-yard box. Arambula attempted another shot at frame on the opportunity, sending the strike just outside of the near post, holding the score at 1-0.
ETSU attempted a flurry of offense in the final minutes of play, but the Gamecock defense held strong, clearing multiple attempts, to close the 1-0 victory.
South Carolina continues non-conference play when it travels to intrastate rival Clemson on Monday. Match time at Riggs Field is set for 7 p.m. ET, with live stats available via GamecocksOnline.com, and live video streamed on ESPN3.com.