BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The No. 10 UAB men’s soccer team surrendered two late goals and suffered a 4-3 setback to Conference USA foe South Carolina on Sunday afternoon at West Campus Field. Sunday’s match marked the team’s final regular season match at home.
“I thought we had done enough to win the game,” head coach Mike Getman stated. “Unfortunately, the last couple of minutes got away from us. Sometimes, that’s just soccer.”
Prior to the start of the match, UAB recognized its seven seniors for their contributions to the program. Seniors Moses Adeniran, Fatai Alabi, Norris Howze, Patrick Huang, Raphael Ville, Chase Wickham, and Atak Yai all played their final regular season game at West Campus Field.
“It’s really disappointing for them not to win today,” said Getman. “They have given their heart and soul for four years. They deserve to go out on a better note than this. They have meant a ton. Their leadership has meant a lot to all of their teammates, as well as all of the coaches.”
For the third time in the past four games, UAB gave up an early goal and was playing from behind. South Carolina sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Torda collected a ball inside the UAB box and chipped it over redshirt freshman goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky to put the Gamecocks ahead 1-0 in the ninth minute.
Like the team has all season, the Blazers did not fret and quickly scored the equalizer. Sophomore forward Freddy Ruiz drove from the end line and sent a pass to Howze in the 26th minute. Howze corralled the ball and placed it in the bottom right corner for his first goal of the year.
Neither team recorded a goal in the remainder of the first half, leaving the score tied at halftime. UAB would surge ahead out of the break. In the 55th minute, Huang lined up a free kick just outside the South Carolina box. Huang’s free kick found the head of junior defender Darion Copeland, giving UAB a 2-1 advantage. Like Howze, it marked Copeland’s first goal of the season.
South Carolina responded six minutes later with its second goal of the day. Freshman forward Eli Dent collected a long ball from senior midfielder J.P. Rafferty and slotted it to the right of Kuzminsky to tie the match.
UAB looked like it was going to take the lead four minutes later. Redshirt junior midfielder Alex Clay sent a terrific pass to Ruiz, setting him up with a one-on-one with Gamecocks’ keeper. Ruiz gently placed a ball to the goalkeeper’s right, but it clanked off the post.
The Blazers finally did find the goal they were looking for in the 83rd minute. Sophomore defender Ian Svantesson bombed a long pass to a streaking Adeniran. The Houston, Texas native corralled the ball and slotted it in the lower left corner to give UAB a 3-2 lead.
In the next two minutes, South Carolina would take control of the match. Torda scored his second goal of the day at the 84:13 mark to tie things up. 44 seconds later, junior forward Asa Kryst recorded the eventual game-winner for the Gamecocks.
UAB would never give up in this one, though. The Blazers would record three shots in the final five minutes of the match. UAB’s best opportunity to tie the game came with 12 seconds remaining. Howze fired a shot towards the South Carolina goal from the top of the box. The ball was sent just a few inches too high and clanked off the crossbar.
“One win or loss does not change who they are and how this team has played,” commented Getman. “The game is really disappointing, but I am really proud of them. Not just the seniors, but really the whole group.”
The Blazers will complete their regular season on Friday, Nov. 8 when they travel to Marshall. Their regular season finale is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. CT in Huntington, W.V.
Notes: For the sixth time in 2013, the UAB men’s soccer team scored at least three goals … Seniors Moses Adeniran, Patrick Huang, and Norris Howze all collected points in their final regular season match at West Campus Field … Sophomore forward Freddy Ruiz registered an assist on the day for his team-leading 25th point … Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky made his first start of his collegiate career, making seven saves against South Carolina.