The USF men’s soccer team continued its Conference USA Tournament hunt Saturday when it defeated Memphis 2-1 on Saturday.The Tigers never got a lead, as USF advanced 2-0 in the late minutes of the second half. Memphis was able to pull within one goal, but the game ended with the Bulls on top.
The Bulls are still two places out of sixth, the lowest position needed to attend the C-USA Tournament. USF has one conference match left, as do four of the top six C-USA teams. C-USA leader Louisville has finished its conference season and third place UAB is waiting to play its two final matches.
Despite the fact that USF’s postseason fate is out of its hands, the victory against Memphis did nothing but help the Bulls in their quest for a tournament berth. It was the second straight conference win after toppling East Carolina 1-0 on Oct. 24.
Saturday’s match began and ended physically, as both teams combined for five yellow and two red cards. The first card, a yellow pulled on junior Kevin King, was seen at the 21:24 mark and the last, a red on Memphis Sophomore Gary Connolly, was pulled at the 88:25 mark. The other red card was given to Memphis senior Graham Gibbs. Two of the remaining yellow cards also went to the Tigers. Memphis coach Richie Grant was not pleased with the officiating.
“The players gave a tremendous effort,” said Grant, in an article published on the Memphis athletic Web site. “I thought the referees spoiled the game, but I cannot fault the players. Our focus now is to have a winning season and the next two games.”
The victory gave both junior Kevin King and freshman Keeron Benito their second goals of the season. Benito struck first after sophomore Hunter West disrupted an attempt at clearing the ball. Benito recovered the ball and scored inside the right post.
King would have to wait until the second half to get his goal. With the Bulls up 1-0, King accepted a through pass from junior Brandon Streicher and put the ball past Memphis goalkeeper Sebastian Vecchio.
The Tigers got on the board when Dayton O’Brien scored on a free kick at the 86:15 mark. It was too late for the Tigers, though; the match ended 2-1 with the help of freshman goalkeeper Dane Brenner, who made seven saves in Saturday’s match.