The Gamecock men's soccer team earned a 1-0 win over FIU in a crucial Conference USA contest at Stone Stadium on Wednesday night.
With the win, South Carolina improves to 8-5-2 on the year, including a 3-2-1 mark in league play. FIU falls to 7-8-0, with a 1-5-0 C-USA record.
Junior midfielder Stephen Morrissey scored the game winner for Carolina, his first goal of the season and the second of his career.
Carolina held a 15-12 advantage in shots in the contest, with both squads managing four shots on goal. Morrissey, freshman midfielder Bradlee Baladez, senior forward Blake Brettschneider and junior defender Danny Cates each registered two shots, while Brettschneider and freshman midfielder Chipper Root each collected an assist. FIU was led by Kevin Hoffmann and Diego Tamburus with three shots each.
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South Carolina goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer collected his seventh shutout of the season and the 26th of his career, moving him past Henry Ring (25.5) for second all-time in South Carolina history in career shutouts. Maurer earned four saves in the match, while FIU netminder Shane Lopez collected three saves in the loss.
Both teams committed 13 fouls and were twice called offsides, while the Gamecocks held a 12-5 advantage in corner kicks.
South Carolina dominated the first half of play on the offensive end, holding an 11-2 upperhand in shots in the opening 45 minutes of action. Morrissey gave the Gamecocks an early lead, when in the 11th minute he capitalized on a corner kick opportunity for the eventual game winner. Root sent a cross into the FIU six-yard box, which Brettschneider flicked to Morrissey on the far post for the score. Cates nearly scored on the counter following the kickoff and Lopez saved another shot by Cates in the 15th minute to hold the Gamecock lead at one goal.
FIU's best chance in the opening half came in the 25th minute when Chris Garces nearly scored, as the ball caught the crossbar and deflected away from frame. South Carolina earned eight corner kicks in the half and tallied several shots late in the set, but the 1-0 score stood at halftime.
The Panthers battled back in the second half, holding a 10-4 upperhand in shots in the set. Brettschneider nearly gave South Carolina a two-goal advantage in the 46th minute. Baladez lofted a pass over the Panther defensive line into the path of Brettschneider on the right side. After beating an FIU defender, Brettschneider faced Lopez with little angle on goal, and the Panther netminder collected his second save of the match, halting the threat.
Maurer collected his first save in the 49th minute on a shot by Dicroce, as FIU began to find an offensive rhythm. The Panthers missed high on a free kick by Tamburus at the 58-minute mark after a Gamecock foul, and Hoffmann had a shot blocked two minutes later, as the Gamecock defensive line held strong. Back and forth play followed, with Lopez earning a save on a shot by Wiltse late in the match, before Maurer collected his fourth save of the half, and final of the game, with two minutes remaining on a strike by Dicroce to earn the shutout.
South Carolina hosts Memphis on Senior Day this Sunday at Stone Stadium. Match time is set for 1 p.m.