COLUMBIA, S.C.-South Carolina freshman Bradlee Baladez netted a goal with 59 seconds left in the first overtime to lift the seventh-seeded Gamecocks to a 1-0 victory over 24th-ranked Duke in the second round of the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament this afternoon in front of 1,872 fans at Stone Stadium. The Blue Devils conclude their season with a 10-6-4 overall record.
After playing nearly 100 scoreless minutes, South Carolina was able to break through with the only goal of the game. J.P. Rafferty found the feet of Stephen Morrissey deep in Duke's defensive territory. Morrissey collected the ball and found his way to the end line and slipped a ball to the near post where Baladez was making a hard run to the near post. Baladez got an extra step on the Duke defender and poked the ball past the near post for the golden goal.
Both teams had outstanding chances in the first overtime. The Blue Devils had the first great scoring look just seconds into the first extra session. Senior Cole Grossman got himself open inside the penalty box and fired a low hard shot to the far post. South Carolina goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer got down quickly and was able to deflect the ball wide of the post as the Gamecocks cleared it out of danger.
South Carolina (13-6-2) came right back minutes later with Baladez wreaking havoc on Duke's backline. Baladez made his way in behind the Blue Devil defense for a one-on-one with Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw. The sophomore goalkeeper quickly came off of his line and forced Baladez to strike the ball just wide of the net.
After play settled down over the next few minutes, the Gamecocks were able to strike suddenly to prevent a necessary second overtime.
Both teams struggled to get into a good rhythm in the first half as a combined 28 fouls were called in the opening 45 minutes. South Carolina generated the first good scoring chance just over two minutes into the game as Trevor Hubbard got open on a rebound inside the 18-yard box. He fired a shot on the goal, but Belshaw came up with a big save with his left foot.
After South Carolina controlled the majority of the possession through the opening 10 minutes, the Blue Devils started generate offensive chances of their own. Duke nearly tallied the first goal of the game in the 14th minute as Christopher Tweed-Kent rifled a shot on frame. Maurer made the save and left a rebound to Duke midfielder Daniel Tweed-Kent on the doorstep. Daniel Tweed-Kent got a foot on the shot, but Maurer was quick to recover and block the ball wide of the net to keep the game even.
Duke was able to maintain more possession as the first half progressed, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. The Blue Devils had a narrow 7-5 lead in shots in the opening 45 minutes and a 3-1 edge in corner kicks.
South Carolina started the second half with a bang as Chipper Root ripped a shot on goal. Belshaw made the diving stop and Duke settled into a steady rhythm of play. The Gamecocks had another outstanding chance with a free kick from 20 yards out. Belshaw was big again for Duke, making a stellar diving safe off of a rifle from Blake Brettschneider.
In search of the game's first goal, the Blue Devils continued to press forward and had their best chance of the second half with less than four minutes to go. Christopher Tweed-Kent served a ball in from the right flank, finding Grossman running through the box. Grossman's header sailed over the crossbar. Duke's offensive push continued all the way to the final seconds as the Blue Devils created multiple dangerous opportunities in the waning 90 seconds as the game headed into the golden goal overtime periods.
South Carolina held a 16-13 advantage in overall shots, including an 8-4 edge in the second half. The Gamecocks had six corner kicks to Duke's four. In goal, Maurer made six saves for South Carolina. Belshaw had four stops on the afternoon.