With come-from-behind wins and late scoring leading to victories, a positive attitude has been the USF mens soccer teams biggest help so far this season.
Junior midfielder Leston Paul has exemplified that for the team.
Pauls optimism and positivity were reflected in USFs latest comeback game, a 2-1 win over Iona last Saturday. After falling behind 1-0 for the second consecutive game, Paul scored anequalizer and assisted on thewinning goal.
Coach George Kiefer, however, said Pauls value was seen through his words and leadership.
I was a little bit concerned going into the locker room because we looked exhausted, he said. Leston just kept saying, Were going to win this game. It fired them up a little bit and Leston was kind of the guy spearheading that, making sure the energy was right. He really put the team on his back and took us where we needed to go.
Hailing from Mayaro, Trinidad, Paul has certainly found his fit in the U.S., but it has not beenwithout its challenges.
The U.S is a more physical game, and its faster, Paul said. The physiques of the players are a lot bigger.
Paul, who is 5-foot-9, entered USF coming off a great year in 2009, in which he racked up three goals for Trinidad in the U-20 Mens World Cup. He started off quietly for the Bulls, picking up an assist and a goal on the season as he started all 17 games.
In his second season at USF, Paul began to find another way to score. While starting all 17 games again, Paul finished second on the team in goals with four, three of which came from penalty kick opportunities.
With the Bulls five games into the 2012 season and sitting at 4-1, Paul said that he has tried to contribute even when he is off the field. At times where most teams would have hung their heads, Paul still finds a way to keep hope alive in the locker room.
I tell them that weve been down before, Paul said. We still have 45 minutes left, so we still have to play hard throughthe end.
While over the years Paul has improved himself as a scorer,scoring his first goal this season in a late win over Iona this past Saturday, he has emerged on the field as a distributor, passing three assists this season one more than the total from his first twoseasons at USF.
He credits his improvement and the ease of his transition to the U.S. in part to the Bullscoaches.
The coaching staff really makes me feel at home, he said. They show respect, and get you to play as a family.
Though Pauls optimism and heart undoubtedly shows in the locker room when the going gets tough, he said he is also confident in his ability to perform in theclassroom.
As he goes into his third year, majoring in geography, Paul said he hopes to successfully finish out his degree but still go pro.
At the end of the day when it comes to balancing soccer and classes, its not impossible, Paul said. You got to do it.
With his future careerapproaching and his senior year around the corner, Paul looks tofocus on this season one game at a time. He plans to rest before heand the Bulls head to Akron, Ohio, where they will face Butler on Fridayat 4:30 p.m., who will look to put a stop to the streaking Bulls andPauls versatile style of play.