After remaining without a loss in conference play for a season and a half, the USF mens soccer team couldnt seem to find a way to win Wednesday night.
For the second time in two games after 13 straight unbeaten conference matches the Bulls (7-4-4, 1-2-3) lost a regular season Big East game, setting themselves back in their journey to the Big East Tournament.
The nationally televised 2-1 loss to Louisville kept the Bulls in seventh place in the Big East Red Division, one spot beneath the cutoff for the postseason tournament. The teams woes come one year after winning the Big East Red Division and advancing to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
Louisville struck first in the 25th minute of play, but it didnt take long for USF to get its crowd back into the game. Eight minutes after the Louisville score, USF sophomore midfielder Roberto Alterio crossed a shot in from the right side of the box into an open net after passes from senior forward Kevin Olali and senior midfielder Leston Paul.
Alterios goal that tied things up at 1-1 would be the last of the half, and coach George Kiefer said he was pleased with the performance.
To come back and get the goal later in the first half I felt good going into the locker room where the energy was good coming back out, Kiefer said.
After a back-and-forth second half, Louisville senior midfielder Ryan Smith tapped in a grounder to the right corner of the net from the far left right in front of goal and right by the Bulls defense with seven minutes left in the match to give Louisville a 2-1 lead.
I thought at times the team played very well as far as our ball movement and creating good chances and keeping (Louisville) pinned in their end, but I give Louisville credit, Kiefer said. I thought later in the game they showed better times than we did and got that goal with seven to go, which I give them credit for.
Though USF ended its four-match home stretch with two straight losses, hopes for the Big East Tournament are still alive with the Bulls, who sit within a point of fifth place.
I think we just have to keep getting better and keep focusing on that, Kiefer said.
The Bulls will head on the road for their last two matches of the season, starting with a trip to New York to take on St. Johns this Saturday at 7:30 p.m., then ending the season with a match at DePaul the following weekend.