South Carolina men's soccer's back was against the wall, but Brian Banahan's goal from his back at the 51-minute mark was the difference in a 1-0 victory over No. 13 FIU on Friday night at Stone Stadium.
Needing a win to stay in the hunt for the conference tournament, the Gamecocks pulled through against 14 second-half shots from the feverish Panther attack on South Carolina's senior night.
With the result, South Carolina improved to 7-8-2 (2-5-0 C-USA) while FIU dropped to 9-1-5 (4-1-1). The Gamecocks notably retired the jersey of former standout Clint Mathis at halftime in a ceremony featuring Mathis and his family as well as former teammates.
"This was a big win for us," head coach Mark Berson said. "FIU came in as an undefeated team and nationally ranked and I thought our guys played great all night. We got the goal. We've been this close a number of times this year but tonight the guys weren't going to be denied. I'm very happy for our seniors. It's a night they'll always remember. It was a great night for the Gamecocks."
After an even first half that saw the Gamecocks out-shoot FIU 6-4, Banahan scored on one of just two second half shots for Carolina at the 51-minute mark thanks to the Andrew Halloran and Logan Hitzeman assist. Banahan found himself on his back fighting for the ball just in front of the net and eventually found success to give Carolina the lead it wouldn't surrender.
On the night, FIU outshot the Gamecocks 18-8 and had a 7-6 advantage in corners. Logan Frost, Luca Mayr, Banahan and Tucker Monheimer had shots on the night for Carolina.
Carolina now must wait out its bye week to confirm its appearance in the Conference USA Tournament later this month.