Hakeem King scored in the 64th-minute in what was a relentless offensive attack by the Spartans as USC Upstate took a 1-0 victory over VMI in non-conference men's soccer action Sunday afternoon at County University Soccer Stadium.
Upstate improved to 3-3-0 on the year. The Spartans will return to action on Sept. 27 at Furman. VMI dropped to 0-7-0 on the season.
"It wasn't a real attractive game, but we managed to put one of our opportunities away to get the win," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks, who is now just two wins shy of 200 at Upstate. "After we scored, we played very good defense and we able to get some young players some experience in key situations with the time running down."
The first half was a fairly even battle, though Upstate dictated the pace of play throughout. The Spartans wanted to play up-tempo, while VMI attempted to play a deliberate, controlled style. The Spartans put several organized plays together, while the Keydets played long passes and looked to score on breakaways.
The best opportunity for a goal came by Upstate when Dave Musambi (Ottawa, Ontario) played a pass forward to Jan Wienholt (Bocholt, Germany) in the left side of the box. Wienholt's shot from 15 yards out hit the left post and VMI was able to clear the ball out of the zone to end the threat.
VMI owned a narrow edge in shots in the first half, leading 5-4. However, Upstate had several would-be shot attempts blocked immediately as the ball left their feet, blocked by the VMI defenders.
Wienholt had another great scoring opportunity in the second half. He reversed touches from his right foot to his left to create space and an open shot. He pounded a shot toward the goal, but VMI keeper Taylor Feuerstein made a diving save to keep the ball out of the net in the 55th-minute.
Feuerstein was again tested two minutes later when King (Port of Spain, Trinidad) got behind the VMI defense on the right side of the box. He pounded a shot that was saved by the Keydet keeper. The rebound was controlled by Upstate and John Kadane (Garland, Texas) pounded a shot from the left side, 12 yards out that was saved by Feuerstein.
After keeping relentless pressure on the VMI defense, Upstate broke through with a goal in the 64th-minute. Colin Francis (Toronto, Canada) took the ball down the left side and played a cross into the box where King put a shot into the back of the net to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. It was King's first goal of the season.
Upstate kept the pressure on and had a couple so solid scoring chances late in the game, but couldn't get anything into the net. At the same time, the defense stood firm and Upstate goalkeeper Jason McCabe (Irmo, S.C.) made a couple of key saves of shots and crosses to thwart any chance the Keydets had to score. McCabe finished with five saves on the day.
Upstate owned the lead in the game in shots (13-10) and corner kicks (8-3).