Nov. 21, 2010

Courtesy of South Carolina Athletics

COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Freshman Bradlee Baladez scored with 59 seconds remaining in the first overtime period to give No. 18 South Carolina a 1-0 victory against No. 24 Duke in NCAA Second Round action at Eugene E. Stone III Stadium. With the win, South Carolina (13-6-2) advances to the NCAA Round of 16 where the Gamecocks will host No. 19 Michigan next Sunday in Columbia.

Baladez earned his team-leading fifth game-winning goal at 99:01 with assists by Stephen Morrissey and J.P. Rafferty. It was the fifth assist of the year for Morrissey and the first career points for Rafferty, a freshman from Raleigh, N.C. Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer tallied six saves in the match, and Duke sophomore James Belshaw collected four saves for the Blue Devils (10-6-4).

South Carolina will make its first NCAA Third Round appearance since the 1998 squad advanced to the Round of 16.

The first half of play proved physical, as both teams drew 14 fouls, including two yellow cards each. Duke's first chance came just under the two-minute mark after a Gamecock foul just outside of the penalty area. Grossman hit a strike over the wall, but high over the crossbar to halt the threat. Carolina countered, as Morrissey battled for two shots within the Blue Devil 18-yard box, the first blocked by a Duke defender, and the second saved by Belshaw.

Maurer made back-to-back point blank saves 14 minutes into the match on shots by Christopher and Daniel Tweed-Kent, respectively. Duke placed a through pass directly across the Gamecock six-yard box to Christopher who attempted a one-touch which Maurer saved. Waiting just past the out-stretched hands of Maurer was Daniel, who attempted a rebound, which was once again saved by Maurer off the goal line.

The teams traded possession the remainder of the half, with neither team finding rhythm on the offensive end. Carolina earned a free kick opportunity 30-yards from goal with just over seven minutes remaining before halftime. Root sent a lofted chip into the six-yard box, which was headed just wide of frame by Howayeck to hold the contest scoreless. Root hit a shot high over the crossbar minutes later and Duke's Sih hit a shot wide of frame in the 42nd minute, as the contest stood at 0-0 at halftime.

Carolina had a chance on frame immediately into the second half, as Brettschneider took the kickoff into the Blue Devil six-yard box. Root collected a loose ball within the penalty area and sent a bullet towards frame, which Belshaw saved over the end line for Carolina's second corner of the match, but Baladez's cross was cleared by the Duke defense.

Carolina continued to press on the offensive end. The Gamecocks earned a free kick at the 50-minute mark after a Duke foul outside the penalty area. Brettschneider sent a bullet towards frame, straight into the path of Belshaw who earned his third save of the match, clearing the strike towards midfield.

Back and forth play followed midway through the half. Gamecock midfielder J.P. Rafferty chipped a ball into the bath of Brettschneider at the 70-minute mark. Brettschneider out-raced a Blue Devil defender, but his shot attempt inched just wide of the far post, the contest still scoreless with 20 minutes left in regulation.

With 11 minutes remaining, South Carolina was awarded a free kick after a foul by Duke just outside the penalty area. Brettschneider's strike was deflected for a Gamecock corner. Morrissey's corner resulted in a shot by Cates, but the Duke defenders cleared the rebound. Both teams had their chances the remainder of regulation. Duke nearly scored at the 87-minute mark when Grossman connected on a cross from Christopher Tweed-Kent steps away from the goal, but his attempt was just high of the crossbar.

Duke continued to pressure through the final minutes of regulation, forcing Maurer to make two saves late in the half to send the contest into overtime. Carolina nearly scored at the opening whistle, when Rafferty sent a cross, which deflected off Baladez directly in front of the Duke goal. Maurer collected his sixth save of the match, another excellent stop from point-blank range with seven minutes left in the first overtime session. Grossman hit a one-time shot towards goal on a pass from Daniel Tweed-Kent, but Maurer made a diving save to his left, which Cates cleared towards midfield.

South Carolina held possession, nearly earning the win on a breakway by Baladez with five minutes remaining in the set. Morrissey split the Blue Devil defense, placing a perfect through ball into the path of Baladez. After out-racing a Blue Devil defender, Baladez sent a bullet towards the far post, but the shot was just wide, as the contest remained scoreless.

Morrissey and Baladez would eventually meet up just minutes later for the game-winning goal. Taking the ball from midfield, Morrissey sent a ball to the wing for Rafferty, and the freshman slotted a perfect ball across the mouth of the goal for Baladez who one-touched it past Belshaw to send the Stone Stadium crowd into hysterics.

South Carolina will host Michigan on Sunday, November 28 at Stone Stadium. The Wolverines defeated UCF by a 2-1 score Sunday afternoon.