A rain delay was not enough to stop the USF men’s soccer team from opening its new stadium in style with a 2-1 win over the University of Tampa.
The 7:30 kickoff was delayed 40 minutes because of weather, but the high winds and rain did nothing to spoil the mood of the excited crowd ready to finally celebrate the opening of the new Corbett Soccer Stadium. Although it was only an exhibition game, the home team’s fans were in full force by the time the delayed kickoff came around.
After a defensive start for both teams, momentum swung away from the Bulls when, in the 29th minute, the Spartans’ front line fired four straight shots in the box. The first three were saved by the Bulls’ debuting goalkeeper, Chris Blais, a graduate student transfer from Michigan, and a fourth shot was finally cleared by senior defender Aubrey Perry.
“That series was really big for our team,” Blais said. “It helped us get into the half with a zero on the board, and that’s really what I wanted to do.”
After the impressive defensive possession, the Bulls’ offense finally came to life in the 36th minute when sophomore forward T.J. Roehn drove into the box and, after a deflected shot, chipped a ball off his chest into the top left corner over Tampa’s freshman goalkeeper Cody Parker for the first goal scored in the new stadium.
“Even though I scored it, the goal was a team effort,” Roehn said. “It doesn’t matter that I was the one to score.”
Roehn said he loved the fan support and the team “came out pumped up, fans cheering and the smoke, and we knew then that there was no way that we were gonna lose this game.”
To eliminate any doubt of victory, USF junior forward Dom Dwyer went one-on-one all the way to the net and finished with a right foot blast that found the back of the net to double the lead in the 65th minute. An ecstatic Dwyer played to the appreciative crowd with a celebratory back flip after his first goal of the season.
The Spartans finally found the scoreboard after a move by junior midfielder Dominic Cutrofello allowed him to find a clear path for the goal to cut the Bulls’ lead in half.
Although it was only an exhibition match, USF coach George Kiefer said he was happy to christen the stadium with a win.
“We’ve been working on the stadium for seven years,” Kiefer said. “We couldn’t lose the first home game. It was good to get that off our back, and now we can just relax and get back to improving game after game.”
The Bulls officially open their season with a road match against Wake Forest on Saturday. They return home on Sept. 2 for a match against Georgia State.