Gordon Wild scored three goals and Greg Hooks won his 300th career game as USC Upstate overcame a two-goal deficit over the final 19 minutes en route to a 5-4 victory over Winthrop Wednesday evening from County University Soccer Stadium.
“I think every soccer coach will tell you that soccer is a game that is more about the players than anything else,” Hooks said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to watch great players win games 300 different times.”
Wild, the first Spartan to win the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week in consecutive weeks, now leads the NCAA with 10 goals, 20 points and 2.0 goals per game and set the USC Upstate single-season record for goals during the Division I era.
Winthrop (1-5-0) scored the first goal of the game when Jordi Lluch registered his fifth goal of the season with a one-timer past Upstate keeper Hassan Haddad in the sixth minute. Jordan Stoddart picked up an assist on the play after his pass from the left sideline found a streaking Lluch inside the Upstate box.
Wild answered just over two minutes later with the first of his three goals, scoring on a free kick with a left-footed blast from 25 yards that found the back corner of the Winthrop goal.
Lluch put the Eagles ahead 2-1 in the 43rd minute with a penalty kick following a red card issued to James Campbell, but Wild answered just over a minute before halftime with a beautiful goal to pull the Spartans even. Wild gained possession after a corner kick and dribbled through two defenders near the end line and beat Hector Fernandez with a shot to the far post.
A goal from Max Hasenstab in the 58th minute and another by Marco Gatzke in the 60th minute gave the Eagles a 4-2 lead. That’s when Wild started the Upstate comeback with another free kick goal to complete the hat trick and leave the Spartans trailing by one goal.
Leon Schwarzer pulled Upstate even in the 76th minute when he dribbled through two Winthrop defenders and blasted a shot into the back of the net. Schwarzer struck again with less than a minute remaining in regulation to complete the comeback and help Upstate to its third win of the season.
“I’ve been around the game of soccer for over 36 years and this might be the wildest game I have ever been a part of,” Hooks added. “I can’t say enough about how our guys kept fighting once we got down two goals midway through the second half.”
Upstate returns to the pitch Saturday at 6 p.m. when the Spartans travel to Boiling Springs, N.C., to face Gardner-Webb.