Hard work and Sweat prove key for USF
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 00:09
As with any sport, hard work and sweat is essential to create a nationally ranked team. This rings true for the USF men’s soccer team in more ways than one. Getting a 3-0 start to the season, junior defender Ben Sweat has been vital in his role on both sides of the ball.
Watching him now, many would think that Sweat has always been a dominant scorer for the Bulls. But it was his defense and passing ability that originally set apart the junior who is just now finding his way on the attack as well as the defense.
“Ben is a very technical player and he’s really grown as a player here at USF too,” coach George Kiefer said. “Early on you knew he was talented, but you’d pull your hair out on some of the little details where now everybody is talking about him scoring goals. He’s paying attention (now) to the detail on those things which is making us a better team.”
Sweat helped get the Bulls off to a start in their home opener against Michigan a week ago. With the game tied up 1-1 in the second period, USF put the Wolverines away in clutch fashion as Sweat found the back of the net for the first time in his college career in the 65th minute of play. The following Friday night, with time running down in a 0-0 struggle with No. 20 SMU, Sweat stepped up again, when he nailed a goal right outside of the net in the 74th minute to clinch a 1-0 win for the Bulls.
“When you do the extra work, when you sprint back 50 yards, when you’re good one on one, when you do the work that isn’t the fun work then it makes the whole team better,” Kiefer said. “I think Ben is doing a good job of that. He’s a great team guy.”
Success on the road continued soon on Sunday, when Sweat and USF’s defense contained Tulsa to one goal in the second half, allowing the Bulls to go up 2-1 over the Golden Hurricanes and 2-0 in the Hurricane Classic. Top Drawer Soccer named Sweat Men’s College Soccer Player of the Week for his performance this past weekend and he looks to keep the ball rolling into this week’s matchup.
“We just have to keep doing the same thing, maybe sharpen our possession a little bit, but the entire team defensively has been great and offensively were putting balls away,” Sweat said. “If we just keep getting confidence we’ll be really good.”
After attending high school at Pinellas county’s Palm Harbor High School, Sweat decided to stay local when he entered USF as a freshman in 2010 after being named Pinellas County player of the year for two years straight.
Upon his arrival, Sweat started all 18 games in 2010, helping the Bulls to 10 shutouts.
A year later, USF put itself on the map when Sweat helped the defense to record 7 shutouts while picking up five assists to help the team offensively, and the Bulls made it to the Elite Eight.
With USF ranked nationally at No. 2 and with opposing defenses looking for a way to stop Sweat’s clutch goals, Sweat has anaged to keep his on-field success on par with his classroom success.
“I’ve gotten used to it I’m starting to take harder classes,” he said. “But when I’m doing school, I’m doing school. When I’m doing soccer, I’m focused on soccer, so I can split the two.”
With momentum in the direction of both Sweat and USF, the Bulls look to roll in on all cylinders as they enter the USF tournament, which kicks off Thursday at 5 p.m. at USF’s Corbett Soccer Stadium.