Columbia, S.C. – Rinaldi Alphonse's sliding goal in the 78th minute was the difference as the USC Upstate men's soccer team took a 2-1 victory over South Carolina in the Spartans' preseason opener Saturday night in Stone Stadium.
"This is a good result for our first exhibition game," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "These exhibition games are like organized practices. Both teams were able to play a lot of different players. We were able to gauge where we are and what we need to work on moving forward. Saying that, I thought our guys responded well and this is something we can build on."
Upstate found the back of the net to begin the scoring in the 10th minute in the first of three 30-minute periods. Sam Moss gained control of the ball shaded to the right side of the field about 30 yards out. He flicked a cross to the center of the box where Taylor Scalera put the header away from 10 yards out to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead over the Gamecocks.
Upstate finished the first period with two shots, taking a 2-1 lead in shots into the second 30-minute period.
The second period went scoreless with South Carolina taking the lead in shots, 5-3, in the game. The Gamecocks out-shot Upstate, 4-1. However, Spartan starting goalkeeper Hassan Haddad finished the period with two saves after not having to pick up a save in the first 30 minutes.
South Carolina leveled the match in the 70th minute. South Carolina pushed forward on the attack and played a pass back to Jeffrey Torda who put the shot away from 20 yards out to tie the score at 1-1.
Although giving up the game-tying goal, Upstate kept its composure and used a counter attack in the 78th minute to take the lead back, 2-1. Leon Schwarzer took the ball on a run up the middle of the field and played a cross to the far post to Alphonse. Alphonse slid to get a foot on the ball before his charging defender could get to it and put the shot into the net on the right side to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead and, eventually, the win.
South Carolina could not get anything going in the final 12 minutes and Upstate took the win, 2-1. The Gamecocks held a 13-4 lead in shots, but many of their shots were blocked or deflected by the Upstate defense.
Upstate will return to action Thursday night when it hosts Southern Wesleyan in a 7:00 pm exhibition at County University Soccer Stadium.