Even though his team had just defeated DePaul 2-0, USF men’s soccer coach John Hackworth was less than thrilled with the Bulls’ effort Friday night at the USF Soccer Stadium.
“Lackluster performance by the Bulls tonight,” Hackworth said. “And that’s a little frustrating for me, to be honest with you, because we needed to play to the best of our ability, to give a good account of not only (our) athletic talent, but (also) our soccer awareness, our decisions and everything.”
The Bulls responded Sunday at Memphis with their best offensive output of the season, defeating the Tigers 5-2.
Midfielder Jeff Thwaites scored his first career hat trick to give him seven goals for the season, second among the Bulls. Jason Cudjoe expanded his team-leading goal total to eight with two in the first half, as the Bulls went into halftime with a 3-0 lead.
“We put together the most complete half of soccer that we played (this season), in the first half,” Hackworth said. “We played excellent. We came out and actually did a great job in the second half.”
Down 5-0, Tigers forward Sean Fraser scored in the 58th and 73rd minutes to place him second on the Tigers’ all-time chart with 38 goals. A total of 37 fouls were called on both teams, and USF junior midfielder Kevin Cowan was shown the red card one minute after Fraser’s second goal.
Hackworth said the Bulls (12-3, 5-2 in Conference USA) focused on finishing scoring opportunities in practice last week, and their preparation paid dividends.”We’ve been working extremely hard on our finishing. That was the focus all week long,” Hackworth said. “We took a lot of repetitions, and it paid off for us.”
Gabriel Salgado notched four assists against the Tigers (4-8-2, 2-5-1 in C-USA), capping off a good weekend that he began by scoring the two goals vs. DePaul.
“The team knew where to put the ball, and that’s what I like about them,” Salgado said. “That’s what we’ve been practicing this week, pretty much, how to set up the forwards to be able to score more.”
Once Salgado scored his first goal in the 13th minute, the Blue Demons (2-10-2, 1-4-2 in C-USA) began to move forward in greater numbers and created numerous opportunities, including 13 corner kicks, compared to three by the Bulls.
“DePaul took some risks, sending guys forward, and instead of us taking advantage of that, we just kinda played into their hands,” Hackworth said.
However, the Blue Demons’ finishing let them down, and Salgado scored his second at the 66:41 mark, giving the Bulls their sixth shutout of the year.
“I’m glad we got the win, I’m glad we got the shutout. That’s all great, but we can’t play like that and expect to be a championship team,” Hackworth said.
Hackworth said his squad underestimated the Blue Demons.
“I think my team took them for granted,” Hackworth said. “You can’t take anybody for granted, especially in this conference. It’s just too strong a conference.”
- Khari Williams covers men’s soccer and can be reached at email@example.com