SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The USC Upstate Spartans scored three goals in the second half - including two in the final nine minutes - to earn a 4-1 win over Gardner-Webb in non-conference play on Saturday evening.
USC Upstate (2-1) controlled the balance of possession for much of the night, holding a 17-5 advantage in attempts toward goal - including an 8-2 edge in shots on frame. The Spartans were awarded 10 corners compared to four for Gardner-Webb (1-3), as the two sides combined for 32 fouls and one caution in a physical battle.
David Koloko provided the scoring for Gardner-Webb with his first career goal in the final 10 minutes off an assist from Severin Soerlie. Isak Reinhardsen was credited for the Runnin' Bulldogs' second shot on frame as Matthew Swan made four saves.
Joel Bunting paced the Spartans with two goals and one assist, as Anson Girone and Lennart Gruentzmacher both added a strike of their own. Sam Moss, Calon Minors, and Victor Borba Labi each were credited with an assist. Santiago Restrepo made one save.
Bunting sent USC Upstate into the intermission with a 1-0 advantage after scoring the breakthrough in the 28th minute. His opening strike came via the header off a long ball from Minors. Girone would double the Spartan advantage to 2-0 off a corner and fortunate bounce from Borba Labi to Girone, who then slotted home from close range in the 56th minute.
Koloko pulled one back for the Runnin' Bulldogs midway through the 82nd minute, finding the back of the net from outside the area off a cross from Soerlie to cut the lead to 2-1. The Spartans would answer 14 seconds after the restart, pushing the advantage back to two at 3-1 when Moss found Bunting in front of goal with a cross from the far side. Upstate later added a fourth in the 89th minute when Bunting set up Gruetzmacher at the top of the 18-yard-box for the finish into the far side netting to make it 4-1.
Gardner-Webb returns to the pitch on Tuesday when the Runnin' Bulldogs host Furman at 7:00 pm at Greene-Harbison Stadium.