Spartanburg, S.C. – Tevin Gage found the back of the net twice and Dustin Bailey added a goal and two assists to lead the USC Upstate men's soccer team to a dominating 4-1 victory over North Florida Sunday afternoon at County University Soccer Stadium.
The match was key as both teams were looking for their first A-Sun win of the season. Upstate took the victory and improved to 3-6-1 overall and 1-1-0 with three points in the A-Sun. North Florida fell to 3-8-0 overall and 0-2-0 in the league.
Upstate did not come out crisp in the match and that led to North Florida's goal. However, the Spartans rallied to score four unanswered goals to take the 4-1 victory.
"I told our players that we can't take any team lightly, and I think they learned that after they scored the first goal," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks, who secured career win No. 290. "I was very disappointed with our effort in the first 20 minutes, but very pleased with the final 70. Our record is what it is, but we have played a whole lot better than our record indicates. These guys deserved to get a win. They have had a rough season to have played so well, so getting a win is something I am happy they were able to get."
An early defensive mistake led to the first goal of the match. North Florida played a ball from the center to the right side of the field and an Upstate defender attempted to stick his leg out to try to deflect the ball instead of tracking back to mark his man. The ball made it through to create a 2-on-1 situation with Spartan goalkeeper Dani Alvarado (Leander, Texas) and Mauricio Valderruten put the shot away from the right side of the box to give the Ospreys a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute.
UNF nearly made it a 2-0 game just a few minutes later. Valderruten got behind the Upstate defense and was one-on-one with Alvarado. Alvarado came out to deflect the shot, but the rebound came back to Valderruten who put a shot toward the open goal. However, Spartan defender John Kadane (Garland, Texas) was there to make a sliding save to keep the game at 1-0.
Upstate tied the match in the 23rd minute on a great developing play from midfield. Grant Kercher (Dayton, Ohio) started things off by playing the ball to a wide open Tim Bailey (Simpsonville, S.C.) on the right sideline. Bailey played a cross to the center of the box where Dave Musambi (Ottawa, Ontario) took the ball and played it off to Dustin Bailey (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) at the top of the box. Bailey hammered a shot from 19 yards out into the left side of the net for his first career goal.
Upstate then avoided two great scoring chances for North Florida. In the 25th minute, the Ospreys played a cross to the goal mouth where Alex Morrell played a bicycle kick that Alvarado just got a piece of to knock it over the goal. With less than 10 minutes to play in the half, Morrell beat his defender and was one-on-one with Alvarado, but his shot was wide of the goal from 10 yards out.
Upstate also had a golden opportunity to score with less than seven minutes to play in the half when Gage (Valrico, Fla.) got behind the UNF defense. However, his shot was deflected out by a diving Kyle Nasta, UNF's goalkeeper.
With time winding down in the half, Upstate took a 2-1 lead on another developing play. Marvin Schmiege (Berlin, Germany) played a ball forward to Dustin Bailey who then found Gage running in from the left. Gage was again one-on-one with the keeper, but this time pounded a shot into the upper right 90 to give the Spartans a 2-1 advantage.
Upstate led an active first half of play. The Spartans owned an 8-7 lead in shots. They were also whistled for six offsides. The six offsides in the first half alone topped the previous season high of four.
Upstate didn't take long to get things going in the second half, creating an opportunity just 2:50 into the period. Dylan Hoop (Hamilton, Ohio) got behind the defense and played a cross to Gage, who's chip shot out of the air just went over the crossbar.
However, Upstate would strike just two minutes later when Kadane played a long ball over the top of the defense to Musambi. Musambi was one-on-one with the keeper, faked him out and moved left to put the shot away into the open goal to give the Spartans a 3-1 lead.
Upstate made it a 4-1 game in the 62nd minute when Gage knocked in his second goal of the day. UNF played a lazy ball across the back which was intercepted by Musambi. Musambi's shot was deflected by Nasta for the save, but the deflection came right to Dustin Bailey who drew Nasta over to the left side of the box. Bailey played a cross to the goal mouth where Gage put the shot away.
Upstate finished the game with the lead in shots, coming away with a 17-12 advantage. The game was also physical with the teams combining for 25 fouls and four yellow cards. Upstate was also called for being offside 13 times.
Gage finished the game with two goals, while Dustin Bailey added a goal and two assists on the day. Musambi totaled a goal and an assist.
"Those guys have been on the verge of scoring goals. I told Dustin when he came off that he was the one who really made the difference today, not only because he scored, but how hard he played in the midfield," said Hooks.