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Greg Watson is the 13th person affiliated with the USC Upstate men's soccer program to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame.
Watson set the benchmark for goalkeepers in the men's soccer program. By the time he left the school, he had led the Rifles/Spartans to their first NAIA National Tournament appearance and helped establish the strong foundation on which the program currently rests.
Watson was a member of the inaugural varsity men's soccer team in 1980. After splitting time in goal as a freshman, he took over the reigns as the regular starting keeper as a sophomore and became one of the all-time greats in the program. In his four years in the program, the Rifles/Spartans tallied a 55-19-4 record.
Watson garnered regional and national recognition with his play in goal. He was a three-time NAIA All-District Six selection, earned NAIA All-America honors in 1983 and was an NSCAA Honorable Mention All-America selection in 1983.
Watson ranks sixth all-time with 30 wins, though that number is deceiving because he was routinely taken out of games after the Rifles/Spartans had built large leads and was credited with "shared" shutouts with his replacements. His 355 saves ranks second all-time, while his 25 shutouts is also the second-best all-time mark in school history.
After two standout seasons in goal as a sophomore and junior, Watson and his Rifles/Spartans made school history in the 1983 season. He was in goal for the entire game as the team, ranked No. 1 in NAIA, traveled down I-85 to play Clemson, which was ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division I. After 90 minutes of regulation play and the overtime periods, the game ended in a 1-1 tie. It marks the only non-losing effort against the Tigers in 10 games in the series.
The 1-1 tie to Clemson was the only blemish on the record of the 1983 team heading into the NAIA National Tournament which brought the final four teams to a neutral location to play the semifinals and national championship games. The Rifles/Spartans entered the semifinal game with a 20-0-1 record and a No. 1 national ranking. USCS/Upstate would eventually lose the semifinal game, but rallied to win the third-place match the next day to finish No. 3 in the nation in the program's fourth year of existence.
Watson had professional tryouts with the American professional Soccer League teams in Charlotte and Tulsa after leaving Spartanburg. He played amateur soccer in Spartanburg, Los Angeles and South Florida before ending his playing career when he was 28. Ending his playing career, though, did not mean an end to soccer for the all-time great. He stayed active in the sport as a referee and reached National Referee status. He has worked championship finals in NCAA Division II and III, NCCAA Division I and II and the NAIA, as well as serving in the officiating rotation for MLS and international soccer matches. He retired from being a referee in 2008 and currently serves as a National Referee Mentor/Assessor with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Watson and his family live in Florida where he works in risk management with Liberty Mutual.