In last year?s USF-Cincinnati men?s soccer match, Cincinnati went up 3-0, only to lose 4-3.
A similar scenario played out Saturday at the USF Soccer Stadium, as USF took a 3-0 first-half lead against the Bearcats ? only this time, there was no comeback.
The Bulls tacked on another goal and survived two late Cincinnati scores to defeat the Bearcats 4-2 in the first Conference USA match of the season for both teams.
USF forward Jason Cudjoe scored twice to bring his season tally to five, while Gabriel Salgado and Ben Cowherd scored their second and first goals of the year, respectively, for the Bulls (6-0, 1-0 in C-USA).
?I just have a great belief in this team. And I really know how talented they are, how committed they are,? said USF coach John Hackworth.
?And when we play up to our capabilities, we?re capable of beating very good soccer teams, just like Cincinnati ? very good team (and) we?re capable of putting on some serious numbers on the board.?
The match was marred by a two-hour rain/lightning delay after 18 minutes, 20 seconds of play, eight minutes after Cudjoe opened the scoring. Salgado received a pass from the defense and flicked the ball forward in Cudjoe?s direction. Cudjoe reached the ball just before the charging goalkeeper, Derek Moore, and chipped into the net.
Stormy conditions set in at 7:20 p.m., forcing the players into their locker rooms and the fans into the concessions area under the bleachers.
?When it (the delay) first happened, I thought we needed it because we were playing into their hands,? Hackworth said. ?We weren?t playing the type of possession game, and changing the point of attack, that we usually do ? but then it just kept on going and kept on going.?
According to Cudjoe, the Bulls got too relaxed and lost focus during the delay.
?I believe it threw us off a little bit,? Cudjoe said. ?Eventually we got back on the boat, ready to play and stuff, but I believe we would have had a lot better result if that didn?t happen.?
Nevertheless, when the match resumed at 9:20 p.m., the Bulls scored twice more before halftime. Salgado netted an unassisted goal in the 38th minute, and Cudjoe got his second in the 43rd with an assist from midfielder Brandon Streicher.
Cowherd completed the scoring for USF with a well-taken shot in the 57th minute. Midfielder Jeff Thwaites fired a quick pass to Cudjoe in the Bearcats? 18-yard box, and Cudjoe passed it back to Cowherd at the left corner of the box. Cowherd?s shot rocketed into the upper right corner of the net.
With the score 4-0, USF?s play became ragged and the Bulls conceded numerous shots to the Bearcats (1-3-2, 0-1 in C-USA) until the end of the match. Cincinnati?s Scott Lyons (77th minute) and Wiremu Patrick (81st) scored from point-blank range to spoil the shutout.
USF defender Casey Stump said the lapse will serve as a wake-up call for the Bulls.
?I think it was a good thing that it happened, actually, because we?ve been having a pretty good season so far and the defense (has) been keeping some shutouts, but I think we needed to have a couple goals go against us,? Stump said. ?Although that may sound a little weird ? I really think we needed it because it just shows we?re not invincible.?
Hackworth was not totally pleased with his team?s efforts, either, but he was happy that the Bulls held on for the victory.
?The most important thing (is) at the end of the day we?re 6-0, we?re 1-0 in conference. I have nothing to complain about,? Hackworth said. ?We?re off to a great start in our season, we?re off to a great start in conference play, and that?s the bottom line.?
Khari Williams covers men’s soccer and can be reached at email@example.com