It wasn’t what anyone in the Big East expected this season, but the USF men’s soccer team (10-5, 8-2 Big East) made its presence known by defeating Louisville (5-10-2, 2-6-2 Big East) 4-1, and guaranteeing the Bulls first place in the Big East’s Red Division.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” coach George Kiefer said. “To accomplish winning the (division) in our first year is a real credit to the team.”
The Bulls, who have struggled in conference road trips this season, found themselves down 1-0 early against the Cardinals until sophomore Rodrigo Hidalgo scored a goal in the 36th minute to tie the game at 1-1, where it would stay until the end of the half.
“We started off a little slow,” Kiefer said. “But once we got into a rhythm, we played pretty well.”
That rhythm came from freshman Jordan Seabrook, who brought fresh legs into the game when the Cardinals found themselves down one man. Seabrook scored two goals in the span of five minutes to put the Bulls in control of the game.
“He’s phenomenal,” Hidalgo said. “As a freshman coming in and making such an impact and scoring those two goals like he did tonight. That’s something that shows how much character a player has.”
Seabrook, who leads the team in goals (11), also scored his 27th point of the season when he assisted a goal by midfielder Keeron Benito that sealed the game for the Bulls.
It was a huge win for a team that had its two Big East losses on the road.
“It’s the toughest conference in the country to get road wins,” Kiefer said. “We felt like we had a major hurdle to get over. It’s good to get a win under our belt.”
The win increased the Bulls’ division lead to four points and mathematically eliminated second-place St. John’s, which lost to Villanova 1-0 on Wednesday.
Clinching the Red Division also guarantees the Bulls will play their first match of the Big East tournament at home.
The Bulls, who were the preseason pick to finish third in the division, were about the only ones not surprised by the news.
“We sat down before the season began, and one of our goals was to win the Big East,” Seabrook said. “We didn’t say it just to say it. When we saw the players in the room and we saw the talent that we had, we knew that it was a realistic possibility.”
As realistic of a possibility it may have been, the Bulls were still at a loss for words after the game.
“We’re feeling real good,” Hidalgo said. “Having such a young team, to winning the Big East our first year. It’s really unexplainable.”