In a season full of close, low-scoring matches, the USF men’s soccer team’s defense has been the key to many of its victories.
Things were different, however, on Wednesday night, as it was the play of the offense that led the Bulls to a 3-2 victory over Florida Atlantic at the USF Soccer Stadium.
“Putting three goals on the board is huge for us,” said Bulls coach George Kiefer. “We needed all of them (Wednesday).”
No. 14 USF got off to a fast start against FAU (4-4-2, 0-2-0), scoring two goals on its first two shots in the first 15 minutes of the match.
Freshman Hasani Sinclair opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he ripped a shot past Owls goalie Jeremy Crumpton after receiving a pinpoint pass from senior midfielder Jorge Mora. The goal was Sinclair’s second on the season.
Less than nine minutes later, midfielder Bernardo Anor notched his team-leading fifth goal of the season after controlling a long pass from Javed Mohammed in front of the net and blasting a shot into the goal.
“We have been working hard in training on surrounding the ball and moving up the field,” Anor said. “Improving in these areas helps us create more chances, and tonight we were able to capitalize on them.”
The Bulls (8-2-2, 3-2-2) took a 2-0 lead into halftime, but FAU came out firing in the second half.
In the 54th minute, Rocco Pecora cut the Bulls’ lead in half when he got behind the USF defense and beat Bulls goalie Jeff Attinella. Tampa native Darnell King was credited with the assist.
USF nursed a one-goal advantage until the 82nd minute, when sophomore midfielder Sebastian Thuriere scored his first goal of the season off assists from Ogi Perucica and Zak Boggs.
“(The goal) was big for me because it was my first of the season,” Thuriere said. “Boggs could have scored that himself but he unselfishly moved the ball around and found me open in front of the net. Our hard work in practice really paid off (last night).”
The resilient Owls would not back down, however, as King scored an unassisted goal just a few yards from USF’s net with less than four minutes remaining to cut the Bulls’ lead to 3-2.
Neither team would have another scoring chance, though, as South Florida’s offense proved to be the difference, as it extended its home-unbeaten streak to 25 matches.
“Our offensive effort tonight was outstanding,” Kiefer said. “I am happy with the direction we are headed in right now.”