Orlando, Fla. – The USC Upstate men's golf team won its first match of the day, 3 ½-2 ½, against Illinois State, then made a big statement in the tournament by downing 59th-ranked South Florida, 4-2, in the second round to advance to the semifinals of The Match Play at Reunion tournament on the Watson Course at the Reunion Golf Resort Monday afternoon.
In a unique college tournament format, 12 teams are participating in The Match Play. Upstate entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and claimed the victory over #8 Illinois State. The Spartans then moved on to play the tournament's No. 2 seed USF. They remained strong throughout the match and claimed a solid 4-2 victory over the top 60 program. The win put Upstate into the championship bracket where a rematch with USF awaits the Spartans in the semifinals. In the other semifinal, top-seeded Notre Dame will face #3 Central Arkansas in the other semifinal.
"Today was a great start to the spring season," said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. "We had a frost delay for 30 minutes and that is incredibly unusual for Central Florida. Illinois State and South Florida are great teams and have quality players. We enjoyed our first-ever day of match play and getting two wins is very exciting. I couldn't ask for more. We made a lot of birdies and our focus as a group was phenomenal. A win tomorrow morning puts us in the championship match and that is great motivation."
Goins, playing at the No. 1 position, claimed a 3&2 victory over Ricky Hearden. Comer, playing at the No. 4 spot, took a dominant 4&3 win over Eric Meier, while Horton also earned a strong 4&3 victory over Jordan Fahel at the No. 5 position.
Upstate was able to clinch the match with a halve by Matthew Hopper, who tied his match with Wils Hawn at the No. 2 spot. Brad Sill, who was five down after six holes, fought back but fell 2Up to Matt Solis at the No. 3 position, while Danny Brock, playing at the No. 6 spot, lost 3&2 to Ryan Murphy.
The win allowed the Spartans to move into the afternoon match against No. 2 seed and 59th-ranked South Florida (USF). The other first round results were: #1 Notre Dame def. #12 Loyola-Chicago, 5.5-0.5; #2 USF def. #11 Marquette, 5-1; #3 Central Arkansas def. #10 UConn, 3.5-2.5; #4 Virginia Commonwealth def. #9 Seton Hall, 4.5-1.5; and #7 Villanova def. #6 DePaul, 3.5-2.5.
In the afternoon match, Goins, Hopper, Horton and Sill each won their matches. Goins claimed a 2Up victory over Devin Henderson at the No. 1 spot. Hopper claimed a dominant 6&4 victory over Trey Valentine, the 34th-ranked player in the country, at the No. 2 spot.
Sill, playing in the No. 3 position, claimed a 2&1 victory over Bodi Karsono, while Horton earned a second-consecutive solid match, 4&2, over Tommy Riehle at the No. 5 spot.
Comer dropped a hard-fought match to Branden Collins, 3&2, at the No. 4 spot, while Brock fell, 3&1, to Rick Kittelstad at the No. 6 position.
The other second round results were: #1 Notre Dame def. #7 Villanova, 4-2; #3 Central Arkansas def. #4 Virginia Commonwealth by a tiebreaker, 3-3; #12 Loyola-Chicago def. #6 DePaul, 4-2; #10 UConn def. #9 Seton Hall, 4-2; #8 Illinois State def. #11 Marquette, 4.5-1.5.