The Bulls went down to their first conference defeat of the season against Charlotte with the game winner coming from Mira Mupier, one of the players USF coach George Kiefer had identified prior to the game as a potential threat to his defense.
SundayÃs 1-0 defeat at Transamerica Field in Charlotte, N.C., saw the first shutout of the BullsÃ potent offense, which is tied for l5th in the nation. Kiefer will hope that the defeat, USFÃs first road loss of the season, will not scuttle their chances of qualifying for Conference USA tournament play at the end of the season.
The all-conference Mupier settled the game as early as the 16th minute when the 49ers capitalized on a sluggish start by the Bulls (6-2-0).
The sophomore forward latched onto a careless midfield pass that left him unopposed as he headed straight to goal. USF keeper Troy Perkins advanced to narrow the angle, but was beaten by MupierÃs near-post finish from 15 yards.
Kiefer said he was far from impressed with the play that gifted Mupier his fourth goal of the season.
Ã¬It was a giveaway in midfield, played right into his path,Ã® said Kiefer. Ã¬We probably shouldnÃt give him the ball if we have to do it over.Ã®
The 49ers (6-2-0), bouncing back from a 2-0 defeat at Saint Louis, held sway for the remainder of the first half, with the Bulls seldom troubling the Charlotte defense.
The Bulls upped their game after the interval, however, creating four chances for both Gabe Salgado and Hunter West to trouble Charlotte netminder Lucas Mackanos. The Bulls came tantalizingly close to equalizing in the 80th minute when Mackanos parried SalgadoÃs shot on goal into the crossbar.
Summing up the game, Kiefer conceded that the result was probably reflective of the respective teamsÃ performances.
Ã¬They were a good team, and they outplayed us,Ã® Kiefer said.
Referring to a poor first half performance, the coach added that he hoped his players had learnt that they had to apply themselves for the full duration of the match.
Ã¬We learned that if we donÃt show up and play for 90 minutes we could be in trouble against a lot of teams,Ã® he said.
With further road games against Cincinnati, UCF and Marquette scheduled before the Bulls return to the USF Soccer Stadium, Kiefer said he would be looking for his older players to use their experience to guide the younger members of the team.
Ã¬IÃm trying to get the seniors to show some leadership Ã³ to teach the younger guys how to approach road games,Ã® he said.