BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - South Carolina's Bradlee Baladez scored a sensational goal early in the first half and the Gamecocks were able to hang on for a 1-0 victory over UAB on Tuesday night at West Campus Field. The contest was the Conference USA opener for the Blazers, who drop to 5-3-2 overall (0-1 C-USA).
UAB controlled most of the run of play, including owning a 14-3 advantage on corner kicks, but of its 10 shots on the night, the Blazers failed to put one on frame. In comparison, the Gamecocks finished with nine shots, five of which came on goal.
"We did everything we wanted to do except put the ball on net," UAB head coach Mike Getmansaid. "Their keeper made zero saves and that's the difference of the game. They had one really good chance and their player had a great strike and a great goal. We don't mind those types of goals. But what we didn't do is put any of our shots on frame. If we don't put shots on goal, we don't score."
Baladez's goal came at the 6:28 mark of the opening half. The tally was set up when a UAB defender attempted to clear the ball out of the 18-yard box, but instead, the ball was deflected and popped up in the air. Balades ran onto it and hit a one-time scorcher into the top right corner of the net from 12-yards out.
The Blazers had several good opportunities to even the contest, but were never able to get a shot on frame.
The victory for the Gamecocks (5-4-1, 3-0) marked their fourth consecutive win and their league-leading third win in conference play.
"You have to give South Carolina a lot of credit," Getman said. "I thought they played well and battled hard and got one great goal."
Blazer goalkeeper Carl Woszczynskiplayed strong in the net, making four saves in the losing effort.
UAB played its first contest in nine days which is the longest layoff of the season. However, Getman didn't think that had anything to do with why South Carolina struck first.
"I think they came out with a lot of energy," Getman said. "South Carolina is a powerful team and they knocked us back on our heels a little bit. But I don't think it had anything to do with the layoff. They came out hard and had some balls bounce their way. After about 15 minutes, I thought we took control of the game, but couldn't find the back of the net."
It doesn't get any easier for the Blazers as they next travel to take on the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT.
"Every game in this league is tough," Getman said. "Kentucky was a top-25 team last week. They are a physical team and I think they have one of their best teams they've had in quite a while. It's going to be a great challenge, but if we play like we did tonight and get some shots on target, I think we have a chance to win any match we play."