In a match resembling last year?s USF-Louisville men?s soccer slugfest, the Bulls defeated the Cardinals 1-0 Saturday at Cardinal Park, stretching their season-opening win streak to eight matches.
Matt Cavenaugh provided the 56th-minute winner in a match featuring 34 fouls, including 22 in the first half. Last season, the Bulls and Cardinals combined for 42 fouls in USF?s 2-1 win.
“It was physical for sure,” said USF coach John Hackworth. “It was just two teams playing very hard with a lot on the line. It wasn?t a dirty game by any means.”
Both teams missed several opportunities in the first half before Cavenaugh booted in his first goal of the year, assisted by Kevin Cowan. Midfielders Jeff Thwaites and Brandon Streicher were passing the ball around effectively, setting up Cowan on the flank. Cowan beat his defender, then fired a shot which goalkeeper Jeremy Morales could not handle.
Cavenaugh and a Louisville defender slid for the rebound, with Cavenaugh reaching first and hitting into the empty net.
Hackworth was pleased with his team?s effort.
“It was pretty good for us, actually. We pretty much dictated the pace of the game and dominated possession,” Hackworth said. “We needed to put a couple goals away in the first half that we didn?t get and it would have put the game away early, I thought.”
The Bulls (8-0, 2-0 in Conference USA) had to play without two of their regular starters, defender Casey Stump and midfielder Ben Cowherd, who picked up injuries in Tuesday?s match vs. Florida Atlantic and did not make the trip to Louisville (2-4-1, 0-1-1 in C-USA). Stump suffered a hip pointer as well as a severe contusion to his lower leg that caused numbness when he kicked. Cowherd was hobbled by a contusion to his quadriceps.
USF also had a late scare Saturday when forward Jason Cudjoe attempted a bicycle kick and a defender landed on his arm. Cudjoe finished the match with a bad bruise and will undergo X-rays today to test for breakage.
Cavenaugh said the team?s unbeaten start is a result of unity.
“8-0, it?s a great start, it?s what you dream of, really,” Cavenaugh said. “But we have the unity. I saw that from the very beginning, the first time I stepped on the field with these guys for the first day of practice.”