- Wade Rainey
Gamecocks Men's Soccer Falls Short to Georgia State
Wade Rainey | @wrainey22
The weather wasn’t a good omen for the South Carolina Gamecocks on a gray evening with rains drizzling down onto Stone Stadium.
Georgia State rode strong performances from Matthew Fearnley and Jeryn Hodge to a 3-1 victory over South Carolina. The Panthers snapped a four-match losing streak to the Gamecocks as the USC was unable to pick up their second win in this abbreviated, five-game fall season.
The game was a tentative, tactical and cagey affair for the first half hour. Both sides had their run of possession, but neither team generated any real scoring chances. The Gamecocks received standout performances from both captain Kyle Gurreri and Paul Clement in the middle of the park, with both players showing off creative ideas in South Carolina’s offensive buildup and some nice pieces of ball-winning on the defensive side.
Despite even possession and the game being played as a touch-and-go affair, it was Georgia State who struck first. A ball fell into the box favorably for Fearnley, who picked his spot nicely and slotted a shot into the bottom left corner past South Carolina keeper Ryan Billichuck. Before the Gamecocks had a chance to regroup, Georgia State’s pacey freshman right back, Jeryn Hodge, glided down the wing, beat a Gamecock defender with a brilliant step-over dribble and smashed a shot across the face of Billichuck to give the Panther’s a 2-0 lead with 12 minutes to play in the half.
At the onset of the second half, however, South Carolina seemed to have found their footing. The Gamecocks dominated both possession and goal-scoring chances for the first 10 minutes. As the half continued, play evened out, and neither side generated any true opportunities. The game became more physical as the half went on with Georgia State’s Ross Finnie receiving a booking for his tackle on Gurrieri. On the ensuing free kick, Gurreri drove a ball into the 18-yard box, which slipped through the Georgia State defense and ended up in the back of net - partially thanks to the wet surface and partially to a mistake from keeper Paul Tyson.
The Panthers did not allow any further chances for the Gamecocks even as Carolina ratcheted up the pressure. The home side was still very much in the game until the 85th minute, when Georgia State midfielder Simon Carlson thumped a header past Carolina goalkeeper Nick Brady, who came on at halftime for Ryan Billichuck.
“Just being good at times isn’t good enough,” said sophomore Logan Hitzeman, whose team recorded as many shots and shots on goal as Georgia State, and at times looked dominant in possession. “We have to stay sharp through 90 minutes, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
While South Carolina was in control of possession for most of the match, Coach Mark Berson wasn’t pleased with what the time did with the ball.
“From our standpoint, their goals came from a couple of bad mistakes very close together, which kind of rocked us,” Berson said. “We needed to do a little bit better in our ball movement and our creation of chances.”
South Carolina will look to get back on track and win the state when they face Clemson Sunday, 7 p.m., at Stone Stadium.