A day after his team gave up a 3-1 loss to in-state rival Central Florida, USF men’s soccer coach John Hackworth did what he does after every match. He popped in the videotape of the match and did a post-mortem.
“I look for critical moments in the game. I look for correct execution, poor decisions, technical breakdowns, tactical breakdowns,” Hackworth said. “The camera catches a lot of stuff that we don’t catch when we’re watching the game, so it gives you a much better perspective of things.”
After studying the tape, Hackworth’s conclusions were the same as his analysis immediately after UCF gained its first-ever win vs. the Bulls: The USF players did not execute properly on defense and wasted chances to score more goals.
“It was a lack of execution on our part. The tape definitely confirms that,” Hackworth said.
As the regular season winds down and the Bulls (12-4, 5-2 in Conference USA) enter a three-match homestand leading into the C-USA Tournament, time is against them in their quest to optimize their play and drive for an NCAA berth. USF’s next match is against C-USA newcomer Texas Christian, 2 p.m. Sunday at the USF Soccer Stadium.
TCU (5-8-1, 2-4-1 in C-USA) is coming off a 4-1 win vs. Drury on Sunday and faces C-USA second-place team UAB tonight in Birmingham, Ala. The win against Drury was the Horned Frogs’ third victory in their last four matches, but they have lost six of their last nine matches overall, including four shutouts at the hands of C-USA teams.
The Horned Frogs are languishing in eighth place in the C-USA standings, while USF is third and looks well positioned to take one of the top six places needed to qualify for the tournament.Hackworth said he expects a difficult match Sunday, but he is more concerned with his own team than with TCU.
“The only danger for us, is us, to be honest with you,” Hackworth said. “We have to be more consistent about the way we play. We have to do the simple things consistently. No matter who is on the field, they have to understand their roles and their responsibilities. That’s what we need to take care of most.”
The Bulls will be without two familiar faces in the center of the defense when they take the field Sunday. Junior Casey Stump suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during practice Monday and will probably miss the rest of the season. Against UCF, freshman Jared Vock received two yellow cards and must serve a one-match suspension.
“It’s real important when you have a very good communicator in the central defense, who knows your system very, very well,” Hackworth said. “And really the only two people who had that role all year are Vock and Stump. So it’s hard to replace them. I’d say in our team it’s the hardest position to replace.”
The Bulls will benefit from the return of junior defender Brian Mullins, who sat out the UCF match because of accumulated yellow cards, as well as junior midfielder Kevin Cowan, who received a red card vs. Memphis on Sunday.
Apart from the return of those two, Hackworth can also look forward to a reunion with TCU graduate assistant Dewi Hardman, who was a graduate assistant at Wake Forest when Hackworth was a player there.
- Khari Williams covers men’s soccer and can be reached at email@example.com