USC men battle to 1-1 draw against No. 8 UNC
CARY, N.C. — No. 24 South Carolina opened its 2016 exhibition slate with a 1-1 draw Monday night against No. 8 North Carolina at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
Seniors Kevin Walker and Danny Deakin connected in the early minutes to get the Garnet and Black off to a strong start, and a second-half unit consisting almost entirely of underclassmen held the Tar Heels scoreless after half.
South Carolina struck on its first shot attempt of the 2016 preseason to gain the early advantage. A solid display of passing guided the ball to senior midfielder Danny Deakin on the left side, who then led Walker toward the box where the forward from Cincinatti, Ohio, connected with his left-foot to put the Gamecocks up 1-0.
North Carolina pulled even six minutes later off a header from freshman Mauricio Pineda found the back of the net to even the score at 1-1.
A flurry of newcomers entered in the second half and held ground on every Tar Heel attack. Senior goalkeeper Marco Velez, following a solid performance in goal from junior William Pyle in the first half, guided the young defense into position while making key stops when called upon.
“It was a good opener. North Carolina is a very good team, so we knew we would see a very high speed of play,” said head coach Mark Berson. “That was important for us to come in and get adjusted to. We were able to get all of our players on. Everyone got 45 minutes, so we were able to divide up the workload a little bit. A lot of freshmen got their first game in a Gamecock uniform, and that’s important. All in all, a very good outing.”
Senior forward Kevin Walker gave the Gamecocks a great start, knocking in the team’s first shot of the season in the sixth minute to put South Carolina up 1-0.
Five players made their debut for the Garnet and Black in Monday’s match against North Carolina. Seniors Danny Deakin and Kevin Walker, the Gamecocks’ top returning scorers from a year ago, continued right where they left off last season as Deakin registered the assist on Walker’s goal.
The second-half unit, which consisted of six sophomores and two freshmen, held the Tar Heels scoreless.
Carolina continues its preseason by hosting Winthrop in an exhibition Thursday. First kick at Stone Stadium is set for 7 p.m., and admission is free. South Carolina Athletics’ new clear bag policy will be in effect.