The USF men’s soccer team won their first Conference USA game this season, defeating UAB 2-1 Saturday at the USF Soccer Stadium.
The Blazers (6-2-2) are the second nationally ranked team the Bulls (4-4-2) have beaten this season. The first victory against a ranked opponent came on Sept. 5 when USF defeated then-No. 16 Furman by the same score.
“I think the guys played very well,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “We were very good in transition.”
All was quiet in the first half of play, as neither team scored. The scoreless half reflected well on a Bulls’ defense that were outshot 11-6.
Kareem Smith broke the deadlock with a goal at the 57:30 mark when he received a pass from Keeron Benito and lofted the ball from 30 yards out, finding the top left-hand corner of the goal.
USF doubled its lead six minutes later when J.R. Casadonte received a pass in the 18-yard box, where he one-touched the ball towards the goal. Instead of the goal, the ball found a UAB defender, but Casadonte recovered the deflection and kicked the ball through the posts on his second attempt.
The Bulls saw their lead cut to one in the 83rd minute of the game when UAB’s Jason McLaughlin received a cross pass and headed the ball into the goal from the six-yard box. Solid defense from the backfield and goalkeeper Dane Brenner, who had five saves, shutdown any chances of the Blazers tying the game.
“Dane (Brenner) each week gets better,” Kiefer said. “He is getting more confident, and I am really happy with him right now.”
USF was outshot 20-13 and had one less shot on goal than the Blazers’ six.
“Obviously, we are disappointed with the result,” UAB coach Mike Getman said on UAB’s athletic Web site. “I think we dominated them as much as we have ever dominated a South Florida team. We created 20 shots against a very good team, which was ranked in the preseason top 25. We did all the things to win except score more goals.”
Despite the big win, Kiefer said he is keeping his head out of the clouds.
“This is a great win for the guys, but we have a tough match at Saint Louis this weekend,” Kiefer said. “It’s a great win, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
USF will travel to St. Louis this weekend to face another nationally ranked conference opponent, the No. 7 Billikens.
“We still have a lot to improve on,” Kiefer said. “As long as I coach, there will never be a team that doesn’t need improvement on defense.”