Two players for the men’s soccer team had hat tricks Friday night as the Bulls won their fifth straight game to open the season.
The night was a first for the pair of forwards, senior Simon Schoendorf and freshman Bernardo Anor. Neither had ever tallied a hat trick, but for Anor, it was also his first time to score a goal in a Bulls uniform.
“It’s just nice to be here,” Anor said. “I’m new to the team, so it feels good to have a three-goal game. It was time to do it.”
Anor came to USF from Venezuela as part of a recruiting class that earned a No. 24 ranking by College Soccer News. Being able to get such a big contribution from a freshman speaks for the team’s depth and the coaching staff’s recruiting capabilities.
“We brought Bernardo here specifically because we thought he could score goals,” coach George Kiefer said. “It was nice to see him get a hat trick. A lot of people worked hard to get him here.”
The Bulls got off to a fast start, scoring their first goal after only three minutes of action. Jordan Seabrook started the USF attack. After Seabrook took a shot that banked off the crossbar, Schoendorf found himself in position to easily put away the rebound, giving the Bulls a 1-0 lead.
“That first goal felt especially good because I felt like it got us off to a good start,” Schoendorf said. “Our team chemistry is great now.”
USF’s lead vanished quickly, however. One minute later, the Eagles converted a free kick from just outside the box into a goal when a cross from American’s Daniel Shannon glanced off the head of Bulls defender Yohance Marshall and went in for another goal. The official scoring awarded the goal to the Eagles’ Karsten Smith.
“We were real frustrated with the goal we gave up,” Kiefer said. “Not taking a mental break after we get goals is something we have to work on.”
As the match progressed, opportunities were mounting for the Bulls, who possessed the ball throughout most of the first half.
“It’s always important to hang onto the ball, in particular with some of the teams from up North, because they’re not as used to the heat here in Florida,” Kiefer said. “You really notice the fatigue factor taking its toll on them late in the game.”
In the 25th minute the Bulls were able to break through and reclaim the lead. After Schoendorf had a shot blocked by the goalkeeper, the Bulls got a corner kick. Anor was able to get his first goal in a USF uniform with the assist coming from junior Kevon Neaves.
When Seabrook couldn’t handle a pass from Kris Raad, he fed it to Schoendorf, who scored his second goal of the night. The Bulls went into halftime up 3-1.
Less than a minute into the second half, Anor scored after an errant clearance by an American defensive back gave him a free run at the goal. He quickly took advantage and gave the Bulls a 4-1 lead.
Anor finished the hat trick just 25 minutes later, after some fancy footwork and an accurate pass from Seabrook shook him loose of two defenders and placed him in front of the goal with a clear shot.
The final goal came in the last minute of the match when Raad completed a pass to Schoendorf, allowing him to complete his hat trick.
Defensively, USF made very few mistakes. They didn’t concede a corner kick the entire night as Kiefer’s back line was an essential piece to USF’s ball control.
The team has now tied the best start of Kiefer’s career at 5-0-0. When that happened in 2004, the Bulls went on to tie their next two matches.
They’ve now outscored their opponents 15-3 and will most likely move up in nationwide soccer polls.
“That’s nice for the players,” Kiefer said. “I don’t think we’re reading much into polls, though. We know we’ve got work to do. The team is good, but we can get a lot better.”