After three years, coach George Kiefer finally got a victory over Charlotte. The No. 17 Bulls beat the 49ers 1-0 in double-overtime in dramatic fashion Saturday at Transamerica Field.
“We finally got that Charlotte monkey off our backs,” said Kiefer, who was previously 0-3 against the 49ers. “This was a very good win. I thought the team played extremely well considering this was our second straight overtime game on the road in the past four days. The team really dug down and showed a lot of discipline. Our offense came up really big for us tonight.”
Freshman Christian Jimenez scored his first career goal in the 104th minute of double overtime.
The win was the Bulls’ (3-0, 2-0 C-USA) second overtime win in the past two games.
Junior Hunter West received a pass at the top of the 49ers goal box, then dribbled his way through Charlotte’s defense and passed to Jimenez, who blasted the game-winning goal from fifteen yards out.
“It’s just amazing. This is my first game starting,” Jimenez said. “And just to get a goal your first time, and it’s the game winner, you don’t get to do that very often. You get to be kind of like the hero, so it’s pretty cool.”
Scoring first-ever goals in overtime could become a trend for the No. 5 freshman class in the nation. Wednesday night at DePaul, freshmen Rodrigo Hidalgo scored his first collegiate goal, also the game winner, in overtime. Hidalgo and Jimenez are ranked the No. 5 and the No. 14 recruits in the country, respectively, by Soccer America.
The game against Charlotte was Jimenez’s first start, as he filled in for the injured Kevin King, who will be back at practice on Tuesday.
“I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t starting, but I got out there today and proved that I can do it,” Jimenez said.
Kiefer is pleased with the defense and goalkeeper Dane Brenner.
“I’m impressed with their start here. And I’m really impressed with our depth that we have been showing,” Kiefer said. “But the two shutouts, that’s all from the defense and our goalkeeper. You have to take your hat off to them.”
Brenner had eight saves against Charlotte. The sophomore has only allowed two goals in three games.
“Dane is doing everything he needs to be doing right now, and if he keeps it up, he’ll be in good shape,” Kiefer said.
USF hadn’t beaten Charlotte since the 2000 season. The win caps a four-game road stretch (including an exhibition at Barry). The Bulls now face four straight games at home.
“It was with this long ride, and all these trips back and forth from Chicago and such,” Kiefer said. “The team showed a lot of character, a lot of discipline, because Charlotte had the whole week to rest before playing us.”