South Carolina Ends Tigers' Season in Conference Semifinals, 2-1
Nov. 11, 2005
For Immediate Release
DALLAS, Texas - The University of South Carolina knocked the defending league champion University of Memphis men's soccer team out of the Conference USA Tournament 2-1 on Friday night in semifinal action at Westcott field.
Freshman Tripp Harkins scored his second goal in as many games to give the Tigers an early lead at the six minute mark, but South Carolina countered 11 seconds later with a game tying score. The Gamecocks then scored its second unanswered goal in the 62nd minute for the victory.
"What an incredible performance out of the whole team," said Memphis head coach Richie Grant. "It epitomized how we played all year. We've played some really good futball this year. We knew it was going to be tight, and you have to give the credit to South Carolina. They were a difficult team to breakdown because I thought we played well in spells. It was just a great game to be a part of."
The loss snapped a three-game conference tournament winning streak by the Tigers that dated back to 2004 when the team won the tournament championship. Memphis ends the season with an 8-8-2 record, while South Carolina (11-6-2) moves on to the league championship game on Sunday against the winner from the Tulsa/Marshall semifinal match-up.
Coming into the game, the Tigers had only lost one game and had earned all eight of its wins and both ties when the team had scored the first goal. The game also marks the first time Memphis has lost to a game-winner coming before the 88th minute since losing to Vanderbilt on Sept. 24.
Harkins knocked his fourth goal of the season in after a cross was deflected off a defender. Eleven seconds later, USC junior Ayo Akinsete tied the game on a goal assisted by Josh Acala.
"It was a bit disappointing to have them score so quickly after us, but then I thought we got back into the game again," Grant said.
After tying the game, South Carolina made several attempts at taking the lead in the first half. Mike Sambursky had a shot saved by Memphis goalie Tyler Strom and then Tiger defender Michael Coburn made two blocks in front of the goal on shots from J.D. Moon and Eric Szeszycki. In the 19th minute, Alcala hit a bullet off the crossbar on a free kick just outside the penalty box. He would then leave the game three minutes later with a season ending leg injury.
With less than nine minutes in the first half, senior Andy Metcalf looked like he was going to have a breakaway opportunity from a ball stolen by Harkins, but was fouled from behind just outside the penalty box. Memphis ended the half with six shots and three on goal, while South Carolina made eight shots with three on goal.
Ryan Deeter scored the game-winner for South Carolina in the 62nd minute on a throw in from about 25-yards out. Memphis out-shot the Gamecocks in the second half 10-9 and finished with 16 shots in the game and five on goal. South Carolina placed nine of its 17 shots on goal with Strom making six saves in the game.
After the game, Grant said he is excited for the future of the program and he wanted to thank his seniors for their leadership in helping mold the team into what it is and what it will yet become.
"I think we have to build on the experience of being in a championship last year and a semifinal this year," Grant said. "We have great young players. I mean look at Tripp Harkins and Jordan Lynn playing a lot of minutes this year. The future with Michael Coburn, Jared Britcher and Adam Montgomery; it's very positive."