#41 South Carolina Men's Soccer 2012 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #3 Conference USA
South Carolina Men's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
South Carolina Team Page


South Carolina struggled early in the season, losing to Charleston, Clemson, Dartmouth and Brown. In those four games, which did have a nice victory over Charlotte and a draw versus Bradley mixed in there, the Gamecocks gave up nine goals. Those struggles on defense would define South Carolina’s season, but they pulled together during Conference USA play and ended up with a solid overall season. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks trip to the postseason was quite short and disappointing, losing to Wake Forest in penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

2011 Record: 9-7-3, 6-1-1
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mark Berson

The Gamecocks can create opportunities and score some goals and until the defense improves, that is what this group will have to keep doing if they hope to make it back for another run at the College Cup. Bradlee Baladez started all 19 games at a striker spot and posted ten goals and five assists. After scoring six goals during his freshman campaign, Baladez is ready for a big year now that he is an upperclassman. Midfielder Braeden Troyer is a major goal scoring threat as well and it will be interesting to see what happens with defender, turned striker, Mike Mangotic. He moved up last season and tallied three goals and five assists. While this is a team in need of defenders, Mangotic was very effective around the opponent’s goal. Coach Mark Berson will have some options with Mangotic and that is never a bad thing. If sophomores like Snoopy Davidson, Niklas Kivinen and Asa Kryst are ready to play a larger role, Mangotic may move back to defense on a permanent basis. The fact that South Carolina’s two best incoming freshmen, Wesley Eads and Devin L’Amoreaux, are attack orientated, it seems very plausible that Mangotic will drop back to defense at some point in 2012.

The Gamecocks defense is getting a little more experienced. Kevin Stam, Eric Martinez and Trevor Hubbard are all upperclassmen with plenty of experience. Whether or not they can make a big difference this year remains to be seen. South Carolina allowed 1.55 goals per game and that number goes way up in non-conference play. The biggest concern is between the posts where as a team the Gamecocks had an awful .64 save percentage. Only four teams in the nation had a worse save percentage than that in 2011 and you can bet none of them were even dreaming about a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Alex Long, a 6-2 junior, was making his first starts in 2011 and did get better as the season progressed, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Having a keeper allow 31 goals and make just 52 saves is not going to cut it again. Long may get some competition from redshirt freshman Robert BeeBee and sophomore Chris Duzan, but this is Long’s job to lose for now. Either way, the goalkeeping cannot get much worse and that is a positve for South Carolina.

Final Projection:
If the defense shores up, the Gamecocks could be in for a very good year. They should once again compete for the Conference USA title, but they may need to get off to a much better start than they did in 2011 to secure a tournament spot. Coach Berson will find the best players to make that possible as he looks to replace six contributors from last year’s roster. The incoming freshmen and four redshirt freshmen will all get long looks and the overall talent level is a little higher than it was last year. That should result in another postseason berth, but it may be another short trip.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Bradlee Baladez, Junior, F, 10
Assists: Bradlee Baladez, Junior, F, 5; Mike Mangotic, Senior, D, 5
Shots: Bradlee Baladez, Junior, F, 60
Saves: Alex Long, Junior, GK, 52

Madness 2012 Men’s Soccer Recruit Rankings:
#72 Devin L'Amoreaux
#126 Wesley Eads