As Brandon Riley got into position for a corner kick in the 28th minute of Monday’s game against No. 3 Georgetown, at the forefront of the USF senior defender’s mind was some advice coach George Kiefer had recently lent him:
Just hold your spot and let it come to you.
Watching the high-arching kick from Lindo Mfeka, Riley did just that as the ball found his waiting head in front of the box for his first career goal in USF’s 2-0 upset over the Hoyas.
It was the Bulls’ first regular-season victory over an opponent ranked that high since they toppled St. John’s in 2005.
“I’d do anything to help my team, man,” said Riley, an Orlando native. “I saw the ball coming, so I just ducked my head in there and got it done. I’m so happy. I’m happy we got the win.”
In a match delayed from the day before due to heavy rain, USF (2-0) showed no signs of rust.
From the onset, the Bulls dominated the Hoyas (0-1-1), but failed to muster any chances past goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski in the initial minutes.
Riley had a golden opportunity to give USF an advantage with a header on an early corner, but the ball sailed over the cross bar and out of play.
Then, after Riley broke the stalemate, junior forward Nazeem Bartman nearly found the back of the net on a free kick, but the ball clanked off the post before being cleared downfield by a Georgetown defender after a scrum in the box.
In the 77th minute, though, the Bulls finally struck for their insurance tally as junior Kendan Anderson chipped in a long feed from senior Atsou Ayah past Marcinkowski’s left side from 12 yards out.
“They were really focused,” Kiefer said. “I think we just harp on it, why do they play? When you really have a good meaning as to why you play, then these little distractions are not anything. I thought they were clearly, extremely focused for the entire match.”
From there, USF held on. Junior goalkeeper Spasoje Stefanovic needed to make just one save — on a point-blank shot, nevertheless — and the defense did the rest to seal the victory.
USF outshot the Hoyas 15-9.
“Our coach tells us not to get comfortable, because a team like this — a very talented team — can put a goal in very quickly,” Riley said. “So we had to stay on them the whole game and I feel like we did well for that. I’m really proud of these guys. I’m really proud.”
The win marked the ninth time Kiefer’s squad has beaten a top-10 team since he took over for John Hackworth in 2002.
“It’s a very good win,” Kiefer said. “Georgetown is a top team and they’ll be there in the end, for sure. For the new guys and for everybody else just to know that we can play with one of the better teams in the country, it’s a good win.”