After sitting behind two MLS Draft pick keepers for his first two seasons, junior keeper Eric Osswald finally got his chance.
Though following the shadows of players like Jeff Attinella and Chris Blais may not be a simple task, Osswald said it has proved to be satisfying.
Ive been waiting on this for a while, Osswald said. I came in knowing I wasnt going to play. I cant say I ever really loved being on the bench. It was tough being there, but I think after all this time working and putting all that hard work in, it really is satisfying to be out on the field and see it come through.
Osswald said his experience over the summer when he trained with the Columbus Crew, where he played keeper on the teams youth development U-18 squad, was beneficial in giving him the in-game experience he did not have at USF.
His career began with a mammoth test when the Bulls faced the Michigan Wolverines, a team two years removed from a Final Four berth and former home for Osswalds predecessor, Chris Blais, and enjoyed a strong start, leading the Bulls to a 2-1 win with Michigans only goal being an own goal.
After three straight wins and three combined goals allowed, Osswald hit his first rough patch of the year. In four games against South Carolina, Iona, Butler and Akron, the junior allowed nine goals and the team went 1-1-2.
He said trusting his skills allowed him to survive the tough stretch.
The longer you trust yourself and trust your abilities, the better you play, Osswald said. I just have to come out here and not think too much. When Im out there just remembering what the keys are and what Ive been working for, I just let myself enjoy it on the field.
Senior midfielder Kevin Olali said Osswalds strong resolve went back to his start at USF, when the talent on the roster prevented him from getting any playing time.
I remember when Eric came to USF. The first two years he didnt play at all, but whether he played or not, his mentality was always the same, Olali said. The longer he played, the harder he worked. Usually people slow down a little bit, but he worked even harder and now hes showing all the work he did with his performance.
Osswald bounced back from the four-game slump and led USF to consecutive shutout wins against Providence and Florida Gulf Coast before allowing one goal in a draw with Villanova, getting USF to yet another unbeaten start in Big East play.
Olali said he can always count on Osswald to make the right play when the opposition is on the attack.
He is always so patient and he was committed every game, Olali said. Whenever the other team is running with the ball or has a corner, I always trust in Eric because hes a reliable keeper.
Osswald and the Bulls will play a road game against Cincinnati at 7 p.m. before returning home for four consecutive games, beginning with a match against Rutgers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.