A solid start and a fortunate blunder for USF by the home team allowed the Bulls (1-0-0) to walk out of Wake Forest’s Spry Soccer Stadium on Saturday night with a 2-0 win over the nationally ranked Demon Deacons (0-0-1).
The Soccer America Preseason poll, one of the most highly regarded polls in College Soccer, had the Demon Deacons ranked No. 13, with the Bulls just three spots below at No. 16.
“If you look back over the last four, five years, we’ve always gone out early and played some of the best teams in the country,” USF men’s soccer coach George Kiefer said. “I really feel like that’s what helps you get better and figure your problems out quicker.”
USF forward Dom Dwyer gave the Bulls control of the match early by driving one-on-one into the box before finishing past Demon Deacon junior goalkeeper Michael Lisch in the 22nd minute. Dwyer became the first player to score a goal this season and, due to a surprising turn of events, was the only official goal scorer in the 2-0 victory.
The Demon Deacons iced the game against themselves by giving up an own goal in the 38th minute. Sophomore defender Tolani Ibikunle was credited for the own goal that rolled past Lisch. The own goal, a rarity in soccer, shifted momentum even further toward the Bulls, and gave them the fuel they needed for the second half.
With momentum on their side, the Bulls’ defense took over in the second half to seal the victory to begin their season. Although the Demon Deacons outshot the Bulls 20-14, USF took advantage of solid goalkeeping and physical defense in the box to pitch a shutout against a very capable Wake Forest team.
Graduate student goalkeeper Chris Blais, the heir apparent to the throne of celebrated former keeper Jeff Attinella, started his legacy at USF the right way with a shutout victory that included seven saves.
“He didn’t have a lot of work, but the work he did, he did efficiently,” Keifer said. That’s what good goalkeepers do.”
The Bulls return home for two games next weekend against Georgia State and Robert Morris on Friday and Sunday with each game kicking off at 7:30 p.m.