Gamecocks host Clemson on Tuesday at 7 PM
COLUMBIA, SC August 30, 2014 – With a couple of ticks left before midnight, South Carolina sophomore midfielder Kurtis Turner blasted home a goal to send the Gamecocks (1-0-0) a winner in their season-opening match against Belmont (0-1-0) on Friday night in front of the fourth-largest crowd at a men’s match in Stone Stadium history.
Turner drove home the winner from 25 yards away, polishing off a rebound from junior midfielder Ryan Arambula after his shot was blocked near the top of the box.
The Gamecocks had many chances, firing 26 shots, with eight coming on goal, compared to Belmont’s five that never threatened the frame. Junior midfielder Jeffrey Torda nearly put in a bicycle kick chance in the 20th minute, but Belmont goalkeeper Grayson Rector made the equally-nice save by pushing the shot over the crossbar.
The end of the second half brought a fury of chances from the right side by sophomore midfielder Koty Millard, who nearly caused an own goal with one of his crosses in the 82nd minute. Torda had a header miss right on Millard’s serve in the 83rd, while Millard forced a corner kick in the 86th minute, one of 14 tallied by South Carolina. With the seconds winding down, Arambula had a corner kick that after a Mahamoudou Kaba deflection found senior defender Braeden Troyer’s head, but Rector made the save as regulation ended.
A few minutes before Turner’s game-winner, Arambula drove in a shot from the right corner that hit the crossbar, and freshman forward Mikkel Knudsen tried to put in his rebound, but his shot missed high.
South Carolina posted its first clean sheet of the year, and sophomore goalkeeper Marco Velez spent more time helping the attack than stopping one. He had no saves while snuffing out challenges during the contest, including one in the 37th minute when he swept in on the left side and took away the Bruins’ best first-half chance.
Millard’s energy toward the end of the second half brought the Gamecocks to life, and Turner’s strike on the rebound sent the Gamecock faithful home happy.
South Carolina’s defense held Belmont at bay, with no shots on goal, no corner kicks and five shots total in 106 minutes.
• South Carolina is 31-5-1 in season openers all-time and 32-4-1 in the first match of the year at The Graveyard.
• The Gamecocks collected their first clean sheet of the year, the 18th in an opener in history. South Carolina has six shutouts in its last eight season openers.
Turner’s second career goal is also his second game-winner. He also tallied the difference maker in last year’s win over Florida Atlantic.
• Senior defender Mahamoudou Kaba led the Gamecocks with four shots, while three others had three each. Sophomore defender Ive Burnett put both of his tries on frame.
• Belmont’s Adriano Balani garnered the only caution of the contest in the 69th minute.
• The Bruins’ net-minder Grayson Rector saved four shots in the first and seven overall before Turner drove one past him in the lower right quadrant of the goal.
South Carolina Head Coach Mark Berson
I was really proud of the guys. At the start of each of the periods, we came out of the blocks quickly. The guys really stuck to the plan. They worked the ball very well; they kept possession. They got good attacking chances. We just were a little unlucky not to capitalize on a few. Their goalkeeper made a couple of excellent saves when we did get through (the defense).
The Gamecocks host rival Clemson on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT. A limited number of fans will receive a Beat Clemson towel, and it will be the first of our Social Media Tuesdays, where fans who show the promotional picture from the different networks will get a special prize.