It was a brisk night in Tampa on Friday night.
Fortunately, AAC play is heating up for several Olympic sports.
USF men’s soccer and volleyball were in action at home Friday as a part of homecoming activities.
Both could have used a win. Neither got one.
Defensive mistakes cost Bulls against Mustangs
By Merrick Buettner, Correspondent
USF men’s soccer (6-3, 1-1) was looking to make a statement to the NCAA by getting a result against SMU (10-0-1, 2-0-1) on Friday night at Corbett Stadium, but fell short in a 3-0 defeat due to defensive mistakes in the first half.
The Bulls were caught off guard early by SMU’s intensity, with normal passes failing to connect and the majority of possession residing in the Bulls’ half.
USF struggled creating chances, with its first shot coming in the 32nd minute — struck just wide by defender Avionne Flanagan off a cross.
A miss-hit pass off a goal kick saw SMU steal possession in a dangerous area in the 28th minute, leading to the country’s leading player in points per game, Gabriel Costa, placing the ball perfectly in the top right hand corner of the Bulls’ net for the game’s first goal.
A lapse in concentration saw the Bulls’ defense give the ball away in a dangerous area in the 35th minute. This ultimately led to a quick combination goal by SMU’s leading goal scorer, Garrett McLaughlin, who played the ball into Knut Ahlander, with Ahlander swiftly finding the back of the net for SMU’s second goal.
“I think it mostly extends down to just maturity, really,” goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares said. “I think we did give the ball away in dangerous areas in the back and it’s not characteristic of us. We just need to learn from those mistakes.”
The Bulls slowly fought their way back into the game, as they started off the second half electrically. Almost immediately, Flanagan had a chance off of a buildup that saw his effort also strike just wide in the 49th minute. More chances followed, but USF was just short of finding the back of the net on each attempt.
“We didn’t decide to show up until the second half,” coach Bob Butehorn said. “We looked young, just did not look as sharp as we did and I think the guys all knew it”.
The obstacle of overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the first half left USF searching for answers and, even though pressure and intensity of both teams increased as time went on, the only team to add to the score sheet was SMU, with a thunderbolt of a strike outside of the box by Henry Smith-Hastie coming in the 85th minute.
Even though the team had a relatively disappointing performance in one of USF’s marquee conference matchups, there’s no lack of confidence in his team going forward.
“We’re just gonna stay focused, you know,” defender Javain Brown said. “It’s just one game, we could still lose this game and still win the conference.”
Young Bulls lose first War on I-4 battle with UCF
By Caleb Stockton, Correspondent
Although UCF (11-6, 4-1) won the war for the 13th straight time in a 4-1 fashion (26-24, 12-25, 20-25, 12-25), USF volleyball (7-12, 1-4) can remain optimistic after the battle.
The young Bulls fed on the classic rivalry energy, taking a competitive first set 26-24. Neither team let up, nor did one lead by more than three the entire set.
Freshman outside hitter Jac St. Cin helped the Bulls pull away late in Set 1. At 17-17, there was no momentum for either side until she found an opening in the dead center of UCF’s side. This created just the lead they needed to carry them over the first set.
Another contributor to USF’s success in the first set was its passing. Sophomore Lauren LaBeck finished the match with a team-high 23.
“That’s when we’re the most competitive is when we’re passing well,” coach Courtney Draper said. “If we don’t pass well, and you can’t sideout, then it makes it for a little bit longer of a set. You don’t get the good pass it just puts our hitters in a really tough position.”
Jac’cara Walker was especially affected by this, managing only six kills out of 28 total attacks.
Sideouts were also a major issue for the Bulls after the first set, ending the game with 53.1 percent as opposed to UCF’s 73.6 percent.
The second set was a classic young team making mistakes. With Walker struggling early on, UCF didn’t jump unless St. Cin came up for a kill, minimizing mix-up options for USF. This resulted in a 25-12 UCF win, with the fourth set looking extremely similar.
Some good came out of the match though. Sophomore libero CC Clausen racked up a game-high 23 digs against a relentless UCF offense.
“I was just thinking to myself to be really aggressive,” Clausen said. “I just wanted to go after every single ball.”
Next up for the Bulls is SMU on Sunday at noon at The Corral.