USF was tied 0-0 at halftime against Georgia Southern in Corbett Stadium on Wednesday night.
But despite not yet leading against an inferior team, coach George Kiefer was happy with his players when he walked into the locker room at halftime.
“When I went in the locker room, I was really pleased because they were not happy with their first half performance,” Kiefer said.
The Bulls would go on to score three goals in less than 20 minutes, beginning with a header by freshman midfielder Eduardo Maceira off a corner kick by senior midfielder Lucas Baldin in the 53rd minute, giving the Bulls a 3-0 victory.
Senior forward Tyler Blackwood scored his first goal as a Bull two minutes and 15 seconds after the opening goal by Maceira. He said the Bulls’ second half dominance came from the team’s discussion in the locker room at halftime.
“Not really many changes, but it was our mentality,” Blackwood said. “We said that we know we are better than this team. We had to go out and put more work in, and as you can see, we were more explosive in the second half.”
Kiefer said the return of sophomore midfielder Duane Muckette, who tore his MCL earlier in the season, helped to open up the offense in the second half as well.
“What you did see was Duane Muckette come in and start the second half and really bring a lot of good ball movement,” Kiefer said. “He started every game last year, so to finally get him back gives us more options.”
USF (5-3) finished the match with 21 shots, compared to four from Georgia Southern (4-4). Kiefer was impressed by his team’s passing, which opened up those shots for the Bulls to take.
“Some of the goals came off of nine or 10 passes, and that’s some of the stuff you like to see,” Kiefer said.
With USF resuming conference play Saturday against Temple at Corbett Stadium, Blackwood said the Bulls are just starting to find their groove.
“From the start of the season, we had so much talent, but it was coming from all different places,” Blackwood said. “We just needed it to click. It took a couple of games, but we’re rolling and we’re just going to go on from here.”