The USF men?s soccer team did something Wednesday that most other collegiate sports teams did not.
They actually played.
With most college fixtures this week postponed because of the World Trade Center tragedy, USF went ahead with its match against in-state rival Stetson.
And the Bulls made the best of their opportunity, defeating Stetson 3-0 in Deland to remain unbeaten. A first-half strike from Jason Cudjoe and goals from Gabriel Salgado and Brandon Streicher early in the second half gave the team its third shutout of the season.
?The most important thing about this match for us is that we won by more than two goals and we got the shutout,? USF coach John Hackworth said.
The Bulls (5-0), ranked 15th in the nation by Soccer America, did not record a shutout in 10 victories last year. They got on the board in the 24th minute Wednesday, courtesy of Cudjoe, the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week.
Cudjoe received a long, diagonal pass from defender Jared Vock, beat his defender and scored on an acute angle from the left side.
?He?s in great form,? Hackworth said of Cudjoe. ?We need to do a better job of delivering the ball to him, to tell you the truth, and (if we do that) I think that we?ll see more goals. But he?s playing well and that?s great to see.?
The score remained 1-0 after the first 45 minutes, but USF wasted no time at the start of the second half, scoring again just two minutes into the half. Midfielder Ben Cowherd took in a cross from the flank and made a one-touch pass to Salgado, who put the ball away from the top of the 18-yard box.
Just three minutes later, Streicher made the score 3-0 with an assist from winger Kevin Cowan. It was Streicher?s first collegiate goal.
The Hatters (2-3) had a chance in the final minute of the match, but Andy Anspaugh?s shot hit the left post and was cleared by the USF defense.
Hackworth said the match was good preparation for USF?s match against C-USA foe Charlotte at home Saturday.
?We didn?t play as well as I would have liked, but we did get an opportunity to rest a lot of starters and that was great,? Hackworth said.
Although he was pleased with the win, Hackworth admitted that it was difficult to focus on the match, given what had happened at the World Trade Center and Pentagon the day before.
?I have mixed emotions about everything,? he said. ?(Tuesday) touched everybody very personally and it was hard to get up for the game.
?But at the same time, it?s important that we go on with our lives, that our spirit is not deterred, that we continue on.?
Khari Williams covers men’s soccer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org