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A saintly upset for men’s soccer

The USF men’s soccer team took a big step toward achieving its goals Saturday night.

The Bulls upset No. 3 St. John’s 1-0 and improved their lead on the top of the Big East’s Red Division.

“It’s a big, big win, and I told the players to enjoy it,” coach George Kiefer said. “It doesn’t mean anything for us as far as taking care of the things we want to take care of.”

In the first half, both teams had their chances, but neither could come up with a score. The Bulls had a slight edge offensively, getting off nine shots to the Red Storm’s six.

In the second half, the Bulls came out firing and controlled the ball for most of the half, making 12 shots, including four on goal. Despite the multitude of scoring opportunities, the Bulls were denied repeatedly by a solid Red Storm defense.

The Bulls finally capitalized in the 19th minute of the second half when freshman midfielder Jason Devenish passed the ball to forward Simon Schoendorf, who shot the ball off the outside of his foot past Red Storm goalkeeper Jason Landers.

“Actually, I was planning to take it for myself,” Devenish said. “I just kind of saw Simon out of the corner of my eye and slipped it to him.”

The goal was Schoendorf’s fifth in the past four games and his second straight game-winning goal.

“Simon is a hell of a player,” freshman defender Yohance Marshall said. “At halftime, I was so content to keep going at him, ’cause they can’t hold him.”

Kiefer, for one, is happy to have a healthy Schoendorf, who was injured at the onset of the season.

“Simon is a great player,” Kiefer said. “He had a great night tonight. If he can keep his head and keep doing that, it’s going to help us a lot.”

Schoendorf and the Bulls held the St. John’s offense to only two shots in the second half. Red Storm coach Dave Masur was impressed with USF’s ability to control the ball in the second half.

“South Florida’s a good team; very technical, very athletic,” Masur said. “I thought they were way sharper than we were and way more in tune with the game. In the end, they deserved the victory.”

Besides gaining the respect of a division rival, the win helped reassure an already upbeat Bulls team.

“It’s huge. It boosted our confidence big time,” Schoendorf said. “It was the first chance we got to prove to the nation that we are one of the top teams.”

Kiefer said that the goal for his team is to finish first or second in their division, and the chances of that improved Saturday night as the Bulls (8-4, 7-1 Big East) moved to four points ahead of St. John’s in the Big East’s Red Division.

“It’s a huge win,” Kiefer said. “But we got to just keep our heads and keep going after it.”