COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind a two-goal night from senior forward J.P. Rafferty, South Carolina (2-1-0) earned a 5-2 win over High Point (0-3-0) on Friday evening at Stone Stadium. Freshman Kurtis Turner scored his first points of the season, collecting three assists on the night.
"The guys are doing what we know they can do. It was nice to have a breakout game where they were able to find their rhythm," South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said of the offensive performance. "All around, it was a good attacking performance in the second half. In the first half, the recognition of the opportunities we were creating was not as good as it needs to be. This is the second game in a row that our guys were able to make adjustments in the second half to come roaring back. I was really proud."
The Gamecocks tallied 13 shots, putting seven on goal, while High Point posted six shots. The only Panther shots on frame were their two goals in the match. South Carolina had just one corner kick opportunity in the match compared to High Point's three chances. Rafferty fired a game-high four shots, converting two goals. Sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Torda put two of his three shots on goal. High Point junior midfielder Colscon Wiley had two shots and was the only Panther to register more than one shot.
Gamecock sophomore goalkeeper Robert Beebe notched his second win of the season, but did not collect a save. Panther sophomore keeper Kody Palmer managed two saves, but gets the loss.
In the 17th minute, freshman defender Ive Burnett sent a cross to junior midfielder Stephen Anderson. Anderson was able to get a shot off, but it caught the post to keep the game scoreless.
Torda fired a rocket towards Palmer in the 21st minute, but the Panther netminder was waiting and collected the save.
High Point took the 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. Sophomore defender Austin Yearwood sent a corner kick into the box for the Panthers. Adam Storm, a fellow sophomore defender, was able to redirect the ball past Beebe on a header.
The Gamecocks quickly drew even in the match when less than 30 seconds later a misplayed ball crept past Panther netminder, resulting in an own goal. South Carolina and High Point entered the half knotted at 1-1.
Turner found his first point in the Garnet and Black when he hit a streaking Rafferty who fired a rocket past his defender from the top of the box to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.
After a High Point foul in the 60th minute, Anderson and sophomore midfielder Ryan Arambula stood over a direct kick. Anderson pushed the restart to junior forward Asa Kryst on the near side. Kryst was able to drive the ball to the far post, giving the Gamecocks a 3-1 lead.
South Carolina extended the lead to 4-1 just five minutes later when Turner and Rafferty connected again. Rafferty found the back of the net from around 18 yards out for his second goal of the night.
After the Panthers were shown a yellow card in the 79th minute, Turner created offense again. Senior midfielder Hunter Wyer was on the other end of the Sheffield, England, native's kick to restart play. Wyer's goal came just a minute and a half after he checked into the game and put the Gamecocks up 5-1.
High Point cut into the South Carolina lead on a penalty kick from Mamadee Nyepon in the 87th minute after the Gamecocks were whistled for a foul in the box.
Next up for South Carolina is a road trip to No. 12/11 Coastal Carolina. The Gamecocks and Chanticleers face each other on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. in Conway, S.C.
Season tickets for men's soccer, which includes admission to all home games, are currently on sale in the Gamecock Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online at GamecocksOnline.com, or by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS. Cost for season tickets for men's soccer is $25 for adults and $10 for youth (17 and under).