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November 8, 2012

Soccer standouts honored

After finishing the season on a high note, a 1-0 victory on the road against a surging No. 25 Kentucky team that is recording its best season in program history, four Gamecocks were honored recently for their efforts both on the field and in the classroom.

For his efforts in the second half against Kentucky, junior goalkeeper Alex Long was named the AgSouth Athlete of the Week. In 45 minutes of second-half action Long held the Wildcats scoreless with four key saves to preserve the Gamecocks' fifth shutout of the season.

Three players earned regular-season All-Conference USA honors: junior forward Bradlee Baladez and sophomore midfielder Braeden Troyer made the All-Conference USA Second Team, and senior defender Mike Mangotic earned third-team honors.

Baladez has earned all-conference honors every year of his career. The Dallas, Tex,, native led USC in 2012 with four goals and three assists for a team-best 11 points. His 44 shots, including 20 on goal, were also team highs. Baladez scored his first two goals of the season at then-No. 5 Charlotte in early September in a 3-2 double-overtime loss while also posting goals versus then-No. 9 Coastal Carolina and then-No. 25 Kentucky. Baladez was a 2011 C-USA first-team honoree, while he was an all-conference third team and all-freshman team selection in 2010.

Troyer earned all-conference accolades for the second-consecutive season after earning third-team and all-freshman honors in 2011. Troyer posted three goals and one assist for seven points this season. Playing nearly every minute in 2012, he also had 15 shots on the year, with six on goal. The Columbia native scored his first goal of the season versus then-No. 25 UAB in mid-October before also posting scores against Marshall and Memphis. Troyer has eight career goals and one assist.

In his final season, Mangotic earned the first postseason award of his USC career - he was named to the 2009 Southern Conference All-Freshman team while competing at UNC Greensboro. The Maumee, Ohio, native scored one goal this season and was part of a defensive unit that collected five shutouts on the year. He concluded his Gamecock career with four goals and seven assists and was part of 17 shutouts.

In the classroom, Troyer also was honored by being placed on the Capital One Academic All-District 4 Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Mercer, Stetson and Wofford all had two players each make the Capital One Academic All-District 4 team, while USF, College of Charleston and Winthrop join South Carolina with one honoree.

Troyer keeps alive South Carolina's streak of placing at least one student-athlete on the all-district squad, pushing it to seven years now dating back to 2006. He advances to the national ballot, with results from that vote set for a Nov. 29 release. The CoSIDA Academic All-America program honors student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a sophomore academically and athletically and a starter or significant contributor to the team. All-District honorees from the eight geographical districts will be placed on the national ballot.

South Carolina finished the year 5-11-2. The Gamecocks recorded the strongest strength of schedule in the Conference-USA at No. 9 nationally, but a 2-5-1 league mark meant an eighth-place finish in the nine-team league, which was not good enough to make the conference tournament that began Wednesday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.

The opening round of tournament play featured two upsets, with No. 5-seed Kentucky defeating No. 4-seed Memphis 1-0, while No. 3-seed UCF fell to No. 6-seed UAB 3-1. Top seed SMU and No. 2-seed Tulsa earned byes into Friday's semifinal round. SMU will play Kentucky, while Tulsa will face UAB. Both semifinal matches will be shown live on the C-USA Digital Network. Sunday's final will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.

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