The Memphis Tigers came into USF riding a five-game winning streak, but No. 10 USF was the one who extended its own unbeaten streak to nine games on the offensive show put on by junior captain Hunter West.
The men’s soccer team climbed closer to being the top Conference-USA team on Saturday night, as the Bulls tallied a 2-0 win over the Tigers at the USF Soccer Stadium.
West scored both goals, bringing his season total to a team-leading five. West’s two goals marked his first multi-goal game of the season.
“It’s great to have a multi-goal game,” West said. “Its always a good feeling. I got to give credit to our defense, because they did a good job shutting down the guys who have been playing well in the conference this season.”
The Bulls scored early in the first half, when West took a rebound from Memphis goalkeeper Sebastian Vecchio that came off a shot from USF midfielder Christian Jimenez. West quickly trapped the ball and shot it through Vecchio’s feet.
Although USF goalkeeper Dane Brenner recorded his fifth shutout of the season, the Tigers had plenty of chances to make a goal or two, as they outshot the Bulls 20-16.
The best chance for Memphis came in the second half, when midfielder Dayton O’Brien was awarded a free kick at about forty yards from USF’s goal box. O’Brien lifted the ball into the goal box and Memphis’ Daniel Dobson headed the ball toward the left post, away from Brenner.
The ball ricocheted off the post and bounced back to Dobson. Dobson took a wide shot, one of his ten shots on the night.
Memphis (8-3-0, 4-1-0 C-USA) played stronger in the second half, registering more than half of their shots and scoring opportunities late in the game.
West gave the Bulls some breathing room toward the end of the game by scoring his second goal with less than fifteen minutes to play. West received a pass from freshman midfielder Simon Schoendorf off a give-and-go play through two Memphis defenders, and then shot the ball at the far left post past a diving Vecchio from about twelve yards out. Schoendorf now leads the team in scoring with twelve points on three goals and six assists.
“I’m just glad the offense has worked out to be so effective,” Schoendorf said. “I found guys I can play real well with. We’re starting to learn each other and figure out what paths Hunter runs, and figuring out where I’m going to put the ball.
“Assisting has always been part of my bigger strength. So I’ll try to get a couple more goals for myself and I’ll be happy with myself. But I’m just glad we won the game.”
USF (7-0-2, 3-0-1 C-USA) continued its dominance over conference teams with a rough game that included 24 fouls and six yellow cards between the two teams.
“(Memphis) is a direct team. A dangerous and tough team to play,” Kiefer said. “I don’t think (Memphis) got dirty. (Memphis) got frustrated after we got the second goal, but the first half was some of the best soccer that we’ve played here in three years. So to shut (Memphis) out is a good commitment from 11 guys.
“Take a good team like Memphis and they start to realize they’re going to lose the game,” Schoendorf said. “They’ll do everything to get it back over to their side, and to harm us as much as they can.
The Bulls made many substitutions throughout the game, bringing in bench players Kris Raad, Osmany Hernandez, and Ryan Abraham, who all haven’t seen much playing time this season.
“We made a couple changes and guys came on and did a better job of moving the ball and keeping the ball,” Kiefer said. “When we’re moving the ball and keeping possession of it, we’re a very good team.”
“It was a good game, a good conference game, a good conference win,” West said. “A conference team is always going to be a tough match and we’re on our way to our goal this year, and that’s the conference tournament.”