Despite Strong Effort, Gents Fall Late to No. 21 South Carolina
Tuesday, September 5, 2006


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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Despite a valient team effort throughout the game, the Centenary men’s soccer team (1-2-0) fell to No. 21 South Carolina (3-1-0), 3-2, Tuesday at Stone Stadium, in Columbia, S.C.

After falling behind 2-0, the Gents relentlessly battled back to tie the game, but eventually fell to the nationally-ranked Gamecocks -- ranked in the Top 25 in this week’s NSCAA/Adidas national poll -- late in regulation play.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, South Carolina senior forward Ayo Akinsete made a run through the Gents penalty area and beat goalkeeper Donnie Henderson (Houston/Westfield) for the game-winning goal. Winning a foot race to the ball inside the Gents 18-yard penalty box, the goal in the 84th minute was Akinsete’s first of the season.

Down by two goals in the first half, Centenary continued to fight, working towards any opportunity to get back into the contest.

In the 31st minute, Gents sophomore Gabriel Silvas (Euless, Texas/Hartwick) cut the deficit to a goal, scoring his first goal of the season on an assist by junior Dustin Forward (Katy, Texas/Cinco Ranch). Silvas was able to get free and chipped the ball over Gamecocks goalkeeper Mike Gustavson for his first goal of the season.

Entering the second half down by a goal and being outshot, Centenary was finally able to get the equalizer that it has been working so hard for.

Scoring in his second consecutive game, junior Aaron Volanski (Magnolia, Texas/Memphis) tied the game at 2-2 in the 70th minute. Off a shot by Silvas, Gustavson bobbled the ball and created a rebound for Volanski to finish home.

The goal by the junior midfielder helped give hope to the Gents that an upset of the ranked Gamecocks could be attained, however, despite their strong efforts, South Carolina was able to get the game-winner by Akinsete.

South Carolina took a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game when senior forward Mike Sambursky got free on the left side of the box and finished the ball past Henderson. Sambursky took the pass from sophomore Spencer Lewis and beat Henderson in the 8th minute.

Just nine minutes following Sambursky’s opening goal, the senior forward -- named 2006 Preseason Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year -- contributed to the Gamecocks second goal of the contest. Building a 2-0 lead, Sambursky dished the ball to teammate Rob Charest, who hit a loaded shot high past Henderson from about 30 yards out.

Despite the early deficit, Centenary did not show any signs of quitting, evidence by Volanski’s second-half equilizer.

"We were a little overwhelmed at the beginning, playing a nationally-ranked powerhouse," Centenary head coach Eric Mayo said. "We later got settled in and started playing our game. Hopefully this game can help the team as we moving into conference play."

Shots were in favor of South Carolina, 17-11, with Charest leading all players with five shots.

Henderson made four saves in the loss, however kept his team in the game after falling behind early. Gustavson made four saves for the Gamecocks in the victory.

The start of Monday’s game was delayed due to a game stoppage in the previous contest at Stone Stadium. With the South Carolina men’s team playing the second game of a doubleheader at Stone Stadium, the previous game between the South Carolina women’s team and Citadel was delayed due to lightning in the Columbia area.

Looking to build on the effort shown in Tuesday’s game, the Gents return to Mayo Field to host the Centenary Invitational Friday and Saturday. The Gents play host to the four-team tournament, with Georgia Southern, Lipscomb and Oral Roberts being the other three competitors.