University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina Athletics
Rice Athletics Ctr - 1304 Heyward St Columbia, SC 29208
Division 1 South Carolina Southeast
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Mark Berson

Mark Berson is the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I men's soccer and is tied for the most NCAA Tournament appearances among active Division I coaches as well with 21 in his illustrious career. He has led the Gamecocks to one NCAA Championship Game, two College Cups, four national quarterfinals and 11 round of 16 appearances.


In addition, over 60 of his players have either been drafted or signed to play professional soccer. At least one former Gamecock has been on each of the last four US Men's National Team roster during World Cup play dating back to 2002, one of only two NCAA programs that can boast of such a legacy. And twice in the last decade (2010 and 2013), Berson's teams have achieved the highest GPA in NCAA Division I men's soccer according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.


Berson's Accomplishments:

• 33 winning seasons in 39 years coaching at the Division I level

• 21 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 20 in last 31 seasons

• One NCAA Tournament Championship Final (1993)

• Two NCAA Tournament College Cups - (1988, 1993)

• Four NCAA Tournament National Quarterfinals - (1985, 1988, 1989, 1993)

• 11 NCAA Tournament Round of 16 appearances - (1979, 1985, 1987-90, 1993-94, 1997-98, 2010)

• 2011 Conference USA Coach of the Year

• Conference USA tournament champions 2005, 2010

• Conference USA tournament regular season champions 2011

• Four-time NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year

• U.S. National U-18 Team Coach (Granatkin/Leningrad Tournament, Soviet Union - 1989)

• United States Soccer National Instructional Staff Coach (1989-present)

• 1992 Inductee - South Carolina Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame

• 2015 inductee - South Carolina Letterman's Association Hall of Fame

• 2015 recipient of the NSCAA's Bill Jeffrey Award for outstanding service or achievement in collegiate soccer

• 1998 Independent Coach of the Year

• One of only three coaches to collect at least 450 victories while a Division I head coach#

Team Accomplishments:

• Four conferences titles in 13 seasons competing under a conference affiliation

• One of two collegiate programs (UCLA) to have had a player on each of the last four United States World Cup teams dating back to 2002

• Over 60 Gamecocks have been drafted or signed to play professional soccer

• 13 individual All-Americans and two National Goalkeepers of the Year

• 50 individuals have combined for 76 NSCAA All-South Region honors

• Eight individuals have earned 11 CoSIDA Academic All-America nods

• In 11 seasons in the league, 15 First-Team All-Conference USA selections

• One Conference USA co-MVP and co-Player of the Year (Blake Brettschneider, 2010)

• One Conference USA Golden Boot (Mikkel Knudsen, 2014)

• Four Conference USA Freshman of the Year honorees (Mikkel Knudsen, 2014; Jimmy Maurer, 2007; Jeff Scannella, 2006; Mike Gustavson, 2005)

• One Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year (Greg Reece, 2005)

• One Conference USA Newcomer of the Year (Tyler Ruthven, 2007)

*based on information compiled from NCAA Division I men's soccer media relations contacts

#based on information compiled in the South Carolina Media Relations Office


Berson has been at South Carolina from the beginning. He was hired to move the program to varsity status in 1978, and he quickly put Carolina on the map. He has gone on to mold the Gamecocks into consistent winners that compete for championships.


Before coming to Carolina in 1978, Berson went 11-5-0 in one season at The Citadel, putting his overall record coming into 2015 at 483-223-70, a .668 winning percentage. In 2006, Berson became the 10th Division I coach all-time to reach the 400-victory milestone when his Gamecocks defeated UAB, 2-0, in a televised contest at Stone Stadium. Berson enters 2016 with a 472-218-70 record at South Carolina.


In 2015, Berson received two major honors. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) honored him with the Bill Jeffrey Award, given to an individual for outstanding service or achievement in college soocer, at its annual convention in January. In the fall, Berson was inducted into South Carolina Lettermen's Association Hall of Fame, where he joins six of his former players.


Berson has made his mark on the college soccer world by taking the Gamecocks to 21 NCAA Tournaments. The Gamecocks have advanced to at least the second round 12 times and have four quarterfinal and two semifinal appearances. In 1993, the Gamecocks advanced to the NCAA Championship game.


Though Carolina has been independent during the majority of the program's tenure, the Gamecocks have captured four conference titles under Berson's leadership. Carolina won the 1993 Metro Conference Championship in one of its two years competing in the conference. The Gamecocks joined Conference USA in 2005 and promptly claimed the league's tournament championship and automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, while Carolina also won the C-USA Championship Tournament in 2010 and collected the regular season championship in 2011.


The Gamecocks made a triumphant return into the NCAA Tournament in 2015, advancing into the second round after hosting Furman in an exciting opening-round contest. Seven Gamecocks earned Conference USA awards, led by junior Danny Deakin's first-team nod. Deakin also led three Gamecocks who made the NSCAA All-Region team, garnering first-team accolades. Both Koty Millard and Jeffrey Torda took spots on both the C-USA and NSCAA squads, with Torda adding CoSIDA Academic All-District, C-USA All-Academic and NSCAA Scholar All-Region nods to his credit.


Besides making an impact in collegiate soccer, Berson's presence is also felt at higher ranks. The Gamecocks are one of only two collegiate programs to have had a player on each of the last four US Men's National World Cup teams. Josh Wolff competed on the US teams in 2002 and 2006 and was also an Olympic team member in 2000. Clint Mathis, a teammate of Wolff during his time at Carolina, also enjoyed a celebrated professional career that spanned 11 seasons in Major League Soccer. Mathis, who retired from professional soccer in 2010, was a member of the 2002 U.S. World Cup squad and helped his MLS team, Real Salt Lake, capture the MLS Cup in 2009. Mathis also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in May 2002 prior to the World Cup, marking the third Gamecock athlete, in any sport, to be featured on the cover of the prestigious magazine. Former Gamecock goalkeeper Brad Guzan has been on the US roster for the past two FIFA World Cups in 2010 and 2014. Gamecock players have represented the United States on many other national-level teams, including the U.S. Olympic team, the U.S. National team, the National "B" team, the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 teams, the World University Games squad, and the U.S. Olympic Festival teams.


Over 60 Gamecocks have either been drafted or signed to play professional soccer. Four former Gamecocks have moved on to the USL in the past two years, including Troyer (Richmond), Mahamoudou Kaba (Wilmington), Robert Beebe (Charleston) and Asa Kryst (Charlotte). Blake Brettschneider played with two MLS teams in 2012, DC United and the New England Revolution. Tyler Ruthven played with the MLS's New York Red Bulls in 2012 and Jimmy Maurer is playing for the NY Cosmos in the NASL.


In January 2005, Guzan made MLS history when he was the No. 2 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, selected by CD Chivas USA. Guzan became the highest goalkeeper ever drafted into the league. In the fall of 2007, he was selected as the 2007 Panasonic MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. He received his first invitation to the U.S. National Team Camp in January 2006 and was selected to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Beijing as the starting goalkeeper. In 2004, goalkeeper Henry Ring enjoyed a breakout season representing the Garnet and Black in the MLS All-Star game and started in goal for the East.


Berson's 2014 squad made the C-USA Tournament Championship Match before ending its season at 10-10. Mikkel Knudsen won two conference individual awards, including becoming the fourth Gamecock to claim Freshman of the Year accolades. Senior Braeden Troyer earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-America first team, was a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award and won the C-USA Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, the only award winner in any sport to come from an affiliate member.


South Carolina saw continued success during the 2011 campaign, earning the Conference USA regular season crown with a stellar 6-1-1 mark in league contests. The Gamecocks earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and held hosting duties in the event's first round. Several Gamecocks earned postseason accolades from the league and NSCAA, including first-team All-C-USA member Bradlee Baladez and All-Freshman honoree Braeden Troyer.


South Carolina won the 2010 Conference USA Tournament Championship, earning the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA Tournament en route to a first-round bye. The home field advantage propelled the Gamecocks to a 1-0 win over Duke during the second round, advancing the squad to the Round of 16. South Carolina concluded the season ranked No. 12 in the final NSCAA Top 25 Poll, while the team also earned the NSCAA's top team academic award. Blake Brettschneider earned Conference USA's Co-MVP and Co-Offensive MVP awards with his stellar play.


Berson led Carolina to a 113-39-12 mark (.726) in the 1990s, which rated the Gamecocks as one of the winningest programs in NCAA Division I soccer. In 1998, Berson earned the inaugural Independent Coach of the Year award after leading Carolina to the best record of all Independent schools.


Berson has also been honored as the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) Coach of the Year in the South on four occasions (1984, 1985, 1988, 1995).


Berson has coached 11 NSCAA All-Americans, 11 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 15 Freshman All-Americans, including Soccer America's 1989 Freshman of the Year, Ruben Tufino. Twice, Berson has tutored the National Goalkeeper of the Year, Warren Lipka in 1985 and Charles Arndt in 1988. Peter Duitsman was named the Boyd McWhorter SEC Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1994, while a year later Greg King garnered an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. Troyer earned Conference USA's Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor for 2014-15, the only affiliate member student to earn any of the league's scholar-athlete awards.


Berson began his coaching career when he joined the soccer staff at The Citadel in 1976 and served as an assistant coach under Eddie Teague. He took over the Bulldogs' head job the next season and led The Citadel to an 11-5-0 mark and a second-place finish in the Southern Conference. Berson came to Columbia to start the varsity program in 1978 and promptly posted a 13-3-1 mark in his inaugural season with the Gamecocks. A year later, South Carolina finished with a 14-5-0 record and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time.


Berson has been involved in soccer development as a coach, teacher and administrator on many levels. He is a U.S. Soccer National Instructional Staff Coach with an "A" coaching license and has served as a US Soccer National Instructional staff coach since 1989. He has served as State Coach for the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association (SCYSA), working in player development and coaching certification. In 1992, he was inducted into the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame.


Berson also coached the U.S. National U-18 team in the Granatkin/Leningrad Tournament in January 1989, in the Soviet Union. In July 1987, he directed the South team to the gold medal in the U.S. Olympic Festival in Durham, N.C., one year after serving as an assistant coach for the South squad.


Berson has served on the NCAA South Region Advisory Committee for the NCAA Tournament and the Division I Coaches Subcommittee for the National Soccer Coaches Association. He has also served as a scout for U.S. Soccer for the South Region. His Carolina Soccer Camp continues to be one of the country's finest soccer camps for children of all age groups and skill levels.


A 1971 graduate of Summit (N.J.) High School, Berson attended the University of North Carolina and received his bachelor of arts degree in journalism in 1975. Berson played on the Tar Heel soccer squad for four years, one as a midfielder and the other three in goal. As a senior, Berson received the UNC Educational Foundation Award and was a member of the Academic ACC Honor Roll. Berson earned his master's of education degree in sport administration from Ohio University in 1977.


Born March 16, 1953, in Hartford, Conn., Berson is married to the former Shauna Hopkins, a South Carolina alum, of Columbia. They have two children, Erin Rhea, and Luke William. Erin graduated from South Carolina in 2009, and Luke is a 2011 graduate of the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business.

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Justin Cook

Head coach Mark Berson announced on March 27, 2017, the hiring of Justin Cook as an assistant coach for the men's soccer program at the University of South Carolina. Cook joins the Gamecocks after 10 seasons (2007-16) as an assistant coach at Tulsa.


"Justin joins us from the University of Tulsa where he has consistently brought in outstanding recruiting classes and assisted in helping TU put an outstanding team on the field each year," said Berson, "He has an outstanding pedigree as a player at Ohio State, where he was one of only two players in history to earn both Big Ten freshman of the year honors and then Big Ten player of the Year honors as a senior."


Cook most recently served as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator for the Golden Hurricane. While with Tulsa, he was a part of eight NCAA Tournament teams, three American Athletic Conference Tournament Championships (2014-16), four C-USA Tournament Championships (2007-09) and three C-USA Regular Season Championships. In their eight NCAA berths with Cook, the Golden Hurricane advanced to the second round four times (2007-08, 10, 15), the third round once (2012) and the NCAA Quarterfinals once (2009). In 2010, the program received a school-best No. 2 national ranking. The program compiled a 117-60-25 (.683 pct) record overall during Cook's time there.


While with Tulsa, Cook recruited three MAC Hermann Trophy candidates, three All-Americans, five academic All-Americans, three C-USA Players of the Year, two C-USA Defensive Players of the Year, 28 all-conference selections and one member of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Men's Soccer Team.


Cook had a highly decorated career as a player as well. He was inducted into the 2015 Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame after earning Big Ten All-Conference honors four times. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2000 and the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2004. He was selected 51st overall in the 2005 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Cook is a native of Orlando, Fla. He and his wife Stefanie have two daughters, Piper and Elizabeth.

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Tyler Kettering

Head coach Mark Berson announced on March 27, 2017, the hiring of Tyler Kettering as an assistant coach for the men's soccer program at the University of South Carolina. Kettering joins the Gamecocks after one season as an assistant at Dayton (2016) and seven as associate head coach at Gardner Webb (2009-16).


“Tyler has extensive experience as a player and coach, having competed in the MLS, and the USL as a goalkeeper,” said Berson, “As a goalkeeper at Gardner Webb University, he led the nation in saves for two seasons. As associate head coach at Gardner Webb, he was responsible for bringing in outstanding recruiting classes and helping develop the Gardner Webb program.”


In his lone season with the Flyers, Kettering helped develop A-10 Defender of the Year Lalas Abubakar, who was selected No. 5 overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew. A native of Xenia, Ohio, Kettering came to Dayton after seven years as the Associate Head Coach for Gardner-Webb University. In his time at Gardner-Webb, Kettering served as the recruiting coordinator, ran day-to-day team operations, as well as developing and implementing practice sessions and overseeing the goalkeeper training throughout the season.


Kettering played his college soccer at Gardner-Webb as well where he had a standout career as a keeper for the Bulldogs. He led the nation in saves twice (2004, 2006), set school and conference records for career saves (446), and earned Atlantic Sun All-Conference honors twice. He finished second in school history with 15 career shutouts and earned A-Sun All-Freshman Team accolades in 2003.


After college he went on to play one season in the USL for the Wilmington Hammerheads (2006-07) and one season in the MLS for the Chicago Fire (2008-09). Kettering and his wife Ali have three children, Logan, Karis, and Charlie.

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