Spartanburg, S.C. - Off to its best start since joining the A-Sun in 2007, the USC Upstate men's soccer team takes its unbeaten league record on the road to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on Jacksonville and North Florida this weekend in a pair of crucial conference matches.
Upstate stands 1-0-1 in the A-Sun after claiming a 3-1 victory over Lipscomb at home last Friday and a 0-0 tie of Belmont at home on Sunday. The start is the best since the Spartans began the 2009 A-Sun campaign with a 1-1-1 record with a tie, loss and win to start that year off in conference play. With four points, Upstate is in a tie for first along with Belmont. Overall, the Spartans are 4-4-1 on the year.
Upstate will battle a pair of tough squads in Jacksonville and North Florida. Jacksonville enters the weekend with a 1-0-0 A-Sun record and a 4-5-1 mark overall. North Florida stands 0-1-0 in the A-Sun and is 1-8-0 overall. Upstate is 1-5-0 all-time against Jacksonville and 0-4-0 during the Spartans' Division I era. Upstate owns an 8-5-1 lead in the overall series against North Florida, though the Ospreys are 4-0-0 against the Spartans since 2007.
Fans can follow this weekend's action online in a variety of ways. Live stats for both matches will be available for free by visiting each school's websites at www.judolphins.com (Jacksonville) and www.unfospreys.com (North Florida). Live video for a fee will be available on ASun.TV. A complete game recap with game statistics will be available on the official Upstate Athletics website, www.upstatespartans.com.
Looking Back at Lipscomb, Belmont
Upstate's A-Sun-opening weekend was widely successful after the Spartans notched a 3-1 victory over Lipscomb on Friday and a 0-0 tie of Belmont on Sunday to secure four points during the first weekend of conference play. Freshman Dave Musambi scored the eventual game winner against the Bisons and Hakeem King tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Spartans. On Sunday, Jason McCabe made seven saves to lead Upstate to the tie of the Bruins.
Jacksonville enters Friday night's game against Upstate with an undefeated A-Sun record after its 2-1 win over Mercer last Sunday. The Dolphins own a 4-5-1 record overall and have won three of their last four games. They opened the season with a 1-4-1 record, but the three wins in the last four matches has Jacksonville confident entering the weekend.
Nick Rodriguez leads Jacksonville with eight points on three goals and two assists, and is one of 12 Dolphins to record at least one point this season. Stefan Durr ranks second with six points on three goals, while Tyler Williams and Daniele Camailla each have five points. The Dolphins have scored 39 points this season on 15 goals and nine assists, while opponents have scored 43 points on 15 goals and 13 assists.
Defensively, Jacksonville owns a 1.47 goals against average. Johnny Foley has played 830 of the team's 920 minutes in goal and owns a 1.52 goals against average with 37 saves.
Scouting North Florida
North Florida enters the weekend with a 1-8-0 overall record and an 0-1-0 mark in the A-Sun following its 2-0 loss to Mercer on Sept. 29. The Ospreys took a 1-0 victory over Longwood on Sept. 3 as its only win on the season.
UNF has scored just three goals this year with Josh Ciambella, Mauricio Valderruten and Oscar Castillo each finding the back of the net. Casey Caronis has the lone assist for the Ospreys on the year. Defensively, UNF owns a 2.67 goals against average. Federico Bertele has seen the most time in the net for the Ospreys, playing 630 minutes with a 2.71 goals against average and 27 saves. Ryan Husted has played 180 minutes with a 2.50 goals against average and seven saves.
Looking Back at 2010
Upstate welcomed North Florida and Jacksonville to Spartanburg in 2010 and the two Jacksonville, Fla.,-based teams left with wins over the Spartans. Upstate was tied with UNF, 1-1, until Adam O'Neill scored in the 80th-minute to give the Ospreys a 2-1 victory on Oct. 15. Two days later, Jacksonville scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-0 victory over Upstate.
McCabe, Spartans Ranked Nationally
In the latest statistical report issued by the NCAA, senior goalkeeper Jason McCabe ranks in the top 25 in three categories to lead the Spartans individually, while Upstate, as a team, ranks in the top 40 in three areas. McCabe ranks 12th with 52 saves and 5.78 saves per game. He also ranks 23rd with an .839 save percentage. As a team, Upstate's 6.22 saves per game ranks 10th in the nation, while the .848 team save percentage is 16th. The Spartans' 0.44 shutout percentage is the 38th-best in the country.
McCabe tops the A-Sun with an .839 save percentage and 5.78 saves per game, while ranking second in goals against average (1.08), saves (52) and shutouts (4). As a team, Upstate tops the conference in goals allowed per game (10) and is second with a 1.08 goals against average and 56 saves.
Closing in on Win No. 200
With a 3-1 victory over Lipscomb (Sept. 30), head coach Greg Hooks has put himself on the brink of reaching 200 career wins at Upstate. The win over the Bisons was No. 199 in his 17-year career at the helm of the Spartan program. Hooks took over the team in 1995 and coached the squad to the championship game of the NCAA Division II Tournament. He is 14 wins short of reaching 300 in his career.
McCoy Finds the Back of the Net
When fifth-year senior Chad McCoy found the back of the net with a header with 54 seconds to play in Upstate's 2-1 loss at No. 23 Furman (Sept. 23), it marked his first goal since scoring the third goal for Upstate in the 3-1 win over Mercer on Oct. 25, 2008. McCoy missed large amounts of time in his career due to various leg injuries and received a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA. He has returned for a fifth season in 2011 and made an impact in the Furman game with his goal late in the game. In 2008, he ranked third on the team in scoring with six points on three goals.
Playing a Tough Schedule
The fact that Upstate has played 36 games decided by one goal in four-plus years is a testament to the strong schedule the Spartans have played in Division I and how close they are to the strong competition they have faced. The schedule has certainly not been easy this season. Counting the Furman (Sept. 27) game, Upstate played two Top 25-ranked teams in its first seven games of the season. The Spartans played VCU on Sept. 11 when the Rams were ranked 16th in the nation. Furman was ranked No. 23 in the NSCAA Top 25 poll.