The No.14 USF Bulls (1-1-1) were confused and overmatched at home as the No.8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1-0) blew out a USF defense that started the season with two shutouts and hadn’t allowed a goal in 203 minutes.
The Bulls lost 5-0 in a game that had the Hilton Garden Inn Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament championship on the line.
The Fighting Irish won the tournament for the first time since 2005.
“It was a good team effort,” Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. “We played nicely throughout and we stayed in command of the match.”
The Bulls were coming off a scoreless tie against the Indiana Hoosiers to open the tournament on Friday, while the Fighting Irish had defeated the Dartmouth Big Green with a dramatic 89th minute goal by junior Dave Donohue.
Indiana had been defeated 4-0 by Dartmouth earlier in the day. All Notre Dame needed was a win or a tie to win the tournament while Bulls needed a win in order to make a statement against two top-10 teams like the Irish and the Hoosiers.
USF may have made the wrong kind of statement, as it was out shot 14 to 1 in the first half.
The Notre Dame offense consistently beat out USF defenders on crosses toward the box as it scored four goals between the 23rd and 35th minutes of the first half in an offensive onslaught that put the match out of reach.
Two of the four goals were on headers after a corner kick by senior forwardBright Dike in the 27th minute and sophomore midfielder Josh Thiermann in the 31st minute.
“It felt like a nightmare that we couldn’t stop,” USF goalkeeper Diego Restrepo said.
Restrepo was hit in the mouth in the 31st minute during the corner kick that resulted in the third goal. After the match, he said he was fine and only had a swollen lip.
Frustration by the Bulls was evident as USF senior forward Zak Boggs was yellow carded in the 58th minute and senior midfielder Kevon Neaves was red carded for arguing the call.
Also, USF’s offense found itself unable to control the ball. Its only clear goal opportunity came on the 30th minute when Boggs had a shot hit the crossbar with the Irish who were already up three goals.
USF finished the tournament in last place with no goals scored and more questions than answers as it returns to Tampa to face Florida International at home Saturday Sept. 13.
“This loss might have been the best thing that could happen to us if we respond well to it,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “We take our hats off to Notre Dame. They were the better team today and we learned a lot from playing them.”