Something foul in the air

Cards and cleats were flying as the Bulls split this weekend’s two tournament games.

Eight yellow cards were shown in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Conference USA foe Charlotte. Disciplinary problems continued in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Providence with the expulsion of the Friars’ Jeff Sawyer.

Sunday’s 1-0 win against Providence (2-4-0) was scoreless in regulation, but things heated up near the end of the second half when Eoin Lynch was carded for a foul. Shortly after, the game turned ugly when the Friars’ Jeff Sawyer was expelled from the game for upending Hunter West near midfield. Although the Bulls’ striker lay prone for several minutes, the referee allowed play to continue. The red card was finally administered after vociferous protests from USF coach George Kiefer and other players.

“I was definitely upset with the referee,” Kiefer said. “The ref told me the ball got away from (West), but you still cannot kick a guy.”

In overtime, the frustration of the Providence players boiled over again when Bulls’ midfielder Eddie Bettega was shoved hard to the ground. Despite the shove, no card was drawn and play was allowed to continue.

The 97 minutes of scoreless play finally came to an end when freshman Kareem Smith, assisted by Bettega, scored his first career goal with 3:17 left in the first overtime.

“I wasn’t really expecting to score,” Smith said. “I was going to blast it one time, but I saw (Bettega) and I knew what was happening. I knew where I was going to go so I said just let me take my time and pass it to (Bettega).”

USF’s win was their second game in this weekend’s USF AmeriSuites Tournament following Friday’s loss to Charlotte which, unfortunately for the Bulls’ conference ambitions, doubled as their C-USA opener.

The game was not void of emotion either — eight yellow cards were given out, three of which came after West scored 71 minutes into the game and a scuffle broke out. Kiefer attributed the fight to frustration on Charlotte’s team and the fact that the Bulls (3-2-1) tied the match up late.

Despite the numerous fouls, Kiefer said his players showed considerable restraint on the field.

“Any time you get fouled 24 times in a game, it wears on you a bit,” Kiefer said. “I thought my guys showed a lot of discipline.”

After West had leveled Evan Harding’s 18th minute goal, the 49ers clinched the win when Floyd Franks recorded his first goal of the season with just eight minutes left in the match. The Bulls have been unable to beat the 49ers for four years. The loss of the first conference match left West disgruntled after the game.

“It’s a tough loss,” West said. “We’re in the hole right now, we’re two games down. We just need to bounce back. It is a tough loss, (and) it’s very frustrating as a player, but good teams step up and bounce back.”