Jacksonville must be sick of the sight of him.
A mere 56 seconds into overtime Tuesday, Gabe Salgado repeated his overtime game-winner of 2000 to give the Bulls consecutive overtime wins against the Dolphins.
The senior’s strike and a third consecutive shutout were enough to secure the Bulls a 1-0 win and saw them maintain their perfect 3-0 start to the season.
The last time the Bulls started a season with three consecutive shutouts was 1980.
After the 90 minutes ended scoreless, the Bulls caught the Dolphins cold in overtime.
“It was quick. I don’t think they knew what happened,” coach George Kiefer said.
What did happen was that Salgado was the beneficiary of some cute wing play from Jeff Thwaites. The senior followed up his goal and two assists Saturday by beating his man to the byline to produce the assist for Salgado, who had time to control the ball before beating Dolphins’ keeper Greg Williams from 10 yards.
The Bulls’ win in the Ashley Sports Complex in Jacksonville followed hard on the heels of their 4-0 rout of East Carolina. In contrast to Saturday’s romp against ECU, however, the Bulls were pushed hard by a Dolphins team that had recently lost by a single goal to No. 13 South Carolina.
Bulls keeper Troy Perkins more than earned his 10th career shutout, being forced into three saves as the Dolphins matched the Bulls throughout the 90 minutes.
USF struggled to find a rhythm and was grateful for defender Casey Stump, whose pace rescued the Bulls on several occasions.
After struggling to create clear-cut chances in the first half, the Bulls produced 10 second-half shots on Williams’ goal but still had to endure a late surge from the Dolphins to take the game into overtime.
“They put some pressure on us late – it could have gone either way,” said Kiefer.
Despite the impressive start to the season, Kiefer remains less than happy with his team’s defensive performances.
“I’m concerned with the amount of chance we’re giving up,” said Kiefer. “I prefer to get shutouts by giving no chances, rather than teams lack of finishing.”
Eyeing up the Bulls’ next game against UNC Greensboro in the AmeriSuites/Reebok South Florida Soccer Classic Friday, the coach was adamant a similar performance would bring the Bulls’ run of victories to an end.
“If we play as loose as we’ve been playing, we will catch our first loss on Friday night,” Keifer said.
Salgado said credit for the Bulls wins this season should be shared throughout the team but added that the achievement of the defensive unit warranted a special mention.
“I mostly want to give credit to our defense,” Salgado said.
“The only reason we’re getting shutouts is because of our defense. Without them, it’s almost impossible to win.”
Chris O’Donnell covers men’s soccer and can be reached at email@example.com