COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tulsa junior forward Akeil Barrett scored with just three seconds remaining in the first overtime to defeat South Carolina (4-5-2, 1-1-0 C-USA) in the Gamecocks’ home Conference-USA opener. The No. 23 Golden Hurricane (6-3-1, 1-1-0 C-USA) scored two unanswered goals in the match after Gamecock junior defender Mahamoudou Kaba earned a tally in the 55th minute. It was the fourth overtime match of the season for the Gamecocks.
“The first half, we didn’t play very well. Credit Tulsa, they had a lot to do with that. In the second half, we were able to make adjustments, and we came roaring back. We completely dominated the statistics in the second half,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said. “We had a number of very good chances, but we weren’t able to capitalize on them. I was proud of the way we played in the second half.
We had a little break down there at the end and it cost us. In sudden-victory overtime, it cost us the game. We have to learn from that and move forward.”
After being outshot 10-2 in the first half, South Carolina narrowed the gap to 17-12 with 10 combined shots in the second half and the overtime period. Kaba led the Gamecocks with four shots to go along with his goal. Sophomore midfielder Ryan Arambula had the assist on Kaba’s score. Sophomore forward Bryce Follensbee added four shots for the Golden Hurricane.
South Carolina freshman keeper Marco Velez collected six saves in the loss. Between the posts for Tulsa, freshman Jake McGuire earned the win, posting one save.
Early on, Tulsa was able to control possession, but the Gamecock defense would not break. In the 20th minute, they put their first shot on goal. Junior midfielder Abe Matamoros fired a shot from just inside the top of the 18-yard box. The ball few to the far post, sending Velez diving to his right for the first save of the match.
Freshman forward Eli Dent registered the first shot of the match for the Gamecocks in the 28th minute. Dent’s shot from 25 yards out was high and wide.
In the 29th minute, the Gamecocks were awarded their second corner kick of the afternoon. The potent combination of Arambula and Kaba nearly hooked up for a score. Kaba was able to put a head on Arambula’s kick, but the shot sailed high.
After the break, South Carolina was much more aggressive and began to level out the time of possession.
The Arambula-Kaba duo gave the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute. Arambula lined up a corner from the near side and swung it into the six-yard box to a waiting Kaba who calmly netted the goal.
Less than five minutes later, senior forward Kyle Cumings hit sophomore forward Cristian Mata who was streaking down the far side. Mata sent a rocket to the near post past Velez. The goal was the sophomore’s seventh of the season and leveled the match at 1-1.
In the 71st minute, sophomore defender Joey Hutchinson had a good look at the goal but couldn’t get off a clean shot. The ball bounced around to junior midfielder Hunter Wyer who was able to get off a shot. A Tulsa defender was there to block the effort.
Junior midfielder Stephen Anderson served the ball into the six-yard box with seven minutes remaining in regulation, but a Tulsa defender broke up the opportunity to connect with senior midfielder J.P. Rafferty.
Both teams had a chance to end the game in regulation. Kaba attempted a bicycle kick in the 86th minute that flew over the crossbar. After a steal, Arambula sought out the goal and had a solid look, but the ball sailed just wide.
For Tulsa, junior defender Quinn Starker sent an attempt went wide as well and the teams went to overtime.
In the extra minutes, Tulsa found the first chance. Velez saved a shot from freshman midfielder Cameron Drackett.
After a foul just outside the 18-yard box, South Carolina set up a direct kick in the 98th minute. Arambula’s restart went straight for the goal, but he did not fool McGuire who collected his only save of the day.
With the clock ticking down, Tulsa made one last attempt in the first overtime period. Mata found Barrett going down the far sideline and with just three seconds on the clock, Barrett sent the game-winner past Velez.
The Gamecocks continue C-USA play and are back in action next Sunday, Oct. 13, at Kentucky. The match against the Wildcats is scheduled for 1 p.m. South Carolina returns to Stone Stadium on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m., to face Florida Atlantic.