Discipline in the face of physicality is the best way to describe how USF men’s soccer won Monday night at Corbett Stadium.
The Bulls (2-1) stunned No. 5 Louisville 2-0 thanks to early goals by junior midfielder Josue Monge and freshman forward Victor Claudel.
Things started out great for USF — good ball movement led to early possession time in the attacking third. Following a Louisville (2-1-1) turnover near the corner flag in the eighth minute, junior defender Avionne Flanagan fed the ball to Monge who powered it past Cardinals goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch for his first goal of the season.
“I just wanted to make good contact on the ball,” Monge said. “I think that’s the most important thing. In the end, I got a little lucky, but a goal is a goal.”
Eleven minutes later, Claudel — fresh off being named to the AAC Honor Roll after scoring his first career goal Friday against Marquette — put together a masterpiece. Claudel sped down the midfield after gaining possession, passed to Flanagan who took a shot on goal that was stopped by Gelnovatch — Claudel then punched the ball in off the rebound, finishing the play he started more than halfway down the field.
Just like that, the Bulls were in complete control against a top-10 team.
Then things started getting chippy.
Louisville committed some hard fouls — some so hard that a fight broke out near midfield in the 44th minute, though only Louisville midfielder Cherif Dieye was shown a yellow card. The rough play from the Cardinals continued until forward Izaiah Jennings was given a red card in the 74th minute after tripping USF’s Emilio Ycaza.
All throughout this, however, the Bulls didn’t give in to temptation — USF only committed four fouls, a stark contrast to Louisville’s nine.
“I love that we have each other’s back, but there’s a time and a place to not get pulled into things,” coach Bob Butehorn said, “and I think our guys grab that and then did a very good job with their composure.”
While the Louisville physicality was still ongoing — albeit unsuccessfully — the Bulls kept attacking, and it looked like they had struck a third time in the 69th minute after sophomore defender Javain Brown appeared to have scored from inside the box.
The celebration started, the fans reacted — the goal itself was even announced by the PA announcer.
But rather than a Louisville touch at midfield, Gelnovatch was getting set to take a goal kick — the play was ruled to be offside.
That’s what the officials said, at least.
“It wasn’t offsides,” Butehorn said. “We showed them [the officials] later, but Javain was literally a yard onside, and it’s just unfortunate because they don’t have the luxury of instant replay.”
The third goal wouldn’t be necessary, though, as senior goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares recorded his first clean sheet of the season, stopping five Louisville shots — though none of them were particularly challenging and the opportunities were few and far between. They were so few and far between that USF ran away with possession at 66 percent.
After hanging around with then-No. 1 Maryland before falling 1-0, dominating Marquette on Friday and now upsetting No. 5 Louisville, the Bulls have made a statement.
At least it’s a statement for now.
“It’s a statement win for us right now,” Butehorn said. “I just wanted the guys to know they could do it … we have a bigger road to go down, but I think this is a really good one for competence and a statement.”