Two first-half goals from Marquette sent the USF men’s soccer team out of the Conference USA Tournament. The Bulls lost 2-1 to the Golden Eagles late Thursday night at the USF Soccer Stadium in the first round of the tournament.
“This is the end of the year, and we’re supposed to play our best soccer. And honestly, I don’t think we even came close to doing that,” said USF coach John Hackworth. “It’s just disappointing … that’s not the team we’re capable of being, in a lot of different ways.”
The Bulls were thoroughly outplayed in the first half, as Marquette attacked often and early. The Golden Eagles struck their first goal in the 11th minute, as captain Sean Reti got behind the defense and headed an indirect free kick by Bryan Godfrey from the right side past Bulls goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Six-foot-4 forward Derek Gutierrez scored Marquette’s second goal just less than six minutes later. Gutierrez capitalized on a mix-up in the USF defense as he intercepted a pass, miskicked his first shot, but recovered to make the score 2-0.
Marquette had an excellent opportunity to make the score 3-0 with four minutes remaining in the half. Bulls defender Jared Vock lost the ball near his own penalty area, and a Golden Eagles forward had a clear shot at goal. But the defense recovered quickly, and a series of desperate saves and blocks kept the ball out.
“Right off the bat they came out and established their game on us, and we completely abandoned ours in the first half, which was extremely frustrating,” Hackworth said.
Simba Harris scored his first goal in USF colors five minutes after halftime, collecting a header into the box by Aaron Ortega and unleashing a right-footed scissor kick that gave goalkeeper Adam Ubert no chance.
However, that was as close as the Bulls would come. USF’s best chance of the half occurred in the 62nd minute, when Gabriel Salgado hit the side netting from close range.
Marquette defender Theran Motl was sent off for his second yellow card in the 78th minute, and he was not the last player ejected. Summing up the night for the Bulls was senior forward Jason Cudjoe – a first team All C-USA selection and so often the hero for the Bulls – receiving his second yellow card for verbally abusing the referee after the match had ended.
The only chance for USF to play in the NCAAs now is to be given an at-large bid. But that grew less likely with Thursday’s loss.
“They look at the end of the season, and we haven’t had a good final stretch,” Hackworth said. “We haven’t won games that we should have won.”
The night began with Charlotte and Cincinnati battling it out in an extremely tight match. The 49ers eventually won on penalty kicks 2-2 (11-10).
Although Cincinnati dominated most of the match with 21 shots on goal, the final score dictated the end of a season for a team that seemed determined to not give up.
“It’s always tough when you go to penalty kicks,” Cincinnati coach Hylton Dayes said. “But I think we played our best. I thought our guys battled and played hard.”
With back-to-back goals from both teams, the game lasted a little more than three hours. The opening goal happened in the 35th minute as Charlotte’s Mira Mupier got a solid pass from George Shepard and capitalized. Cincinnati scored its first goal in the 51st minute of the second half by Justin Dobbs. The match remained tied for less than 10 minutes as Charlotte’s Chris Wargin buried a solid shot in the top right corner of. Nevertheless, the Bearcats came back to tie the match in the 86th minute when John Liersemann scored.
As regulation time ended, both teams remained tied at 2. This led to two 15 -minute overtime periods where neither team capitalized. Finally, penalty kicks would define the end of the match. The rules called the best five shooters to take a one-on-one shot with the goalie. Both teams remained tied, so sudden death was declared. Wargin scored the match definer for the 49ers as Shane Curran missed his shot.