Jason Cudjoe scored his team-leading sixth goal of the year to lead the No. 11 USF men?s soccer team to a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Florida Atlantic Tuesday night at the USF Soccer Stadium.
Cudjoe?s goal in the second sudden-death overtime sealed the Bulls? seventh win in as many matches this season. Kevin Cowan outmaneuvred a defender and delivered a cross to Cudjoe from the left flank. The senior forward, in the penalty area with his back to the goal, flicked the ball over his shoulder toward goal. Goalkeeper Jonas Kolstad was caught too far out and the ball drifted over his head for the winner.
“There was a little bobble on the side on the pitch. The defender wasn?t paying attention, thought it went out, but Kevin kept playing,” Cudjoe said. “That?s what we?re taught: just keeping playing ?til you hear the whistle.
“He whipped it in and I just found myself and tried to put it away as neatly as possible.”
Despite having a 12-3 advantage in shots in the first half, USF (6-0, 1-0 in Conference USA) was unable to find the net in the half. Defender Brian Mullins came closest when he headed a corner by midfielder Jeff Thwaites into the crossbar. With just 30 seconds to play in the half, midfielder Brandon Streicher had a point-blank shot saved, and Matt Cavenaugh was wide with a follow-up volley.
FAU (2-3) took the lead two minutes after halftime when Emiliano Aranes crossed to Henrik Salveson, who fought through the defense and headed home past goalkeeper Clay Spriet, making his first appearance for the Bulls as a second-half substitute.
Then, the match resembled the Bulls-Owls matchup last year when the Bulls outshot the Owls, only to lose 2-1.
“Yeah, it was pretty much dÃ©jÃ vu, except that they?re (FAU) a much better team this year,” said USF coach John Hackworth.
The Bulls? misfortunes continued in the 68th minute when Gabriel Salgado?s shot from close range was saved, and Cudjoe hit the post with his rebound shot.
But USF drew level in the 82nd minute when Cudjoe drew a foul in the FAU 18-yard box and Thwaites sent the penalty kick past Kolstad.
“When you?re down 1-0 and you get a goal, no matter what kind of goal it is, it?s an uplifting thing. Once you get that first one, all the rest will come,” Thwaites said.
Thwaites has now scored twice from the penalty spot this season.
“I used to have a goal in the backyard that my dad built me, so I used to practice all the time. That and free kicks,” Thwaites said.
The score remained 1-1 until Cudjoe?s goal in the 114th minute. Hackworth praised his players for remaining focused and coming out with the victory.
“It was a character win, and it was great that my team found a way to win,” Hackworth said. “That?s a key. They dug down, and even though we didn?t play the soccer we?re capable of and I wasn?t thrilled with our intensity, we found a way to win and that?s huge.”
The Bulls are ranked No. 8 by Soccer America, their highest-ever ranking in a national poll, and No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Asociation of America and Collegesoccer.com polls.
Khari Williams covers men?s soccer and can be reached at email@example.com