Despite loss, men’s soccer stays atop Big East

The USF men’s soccer team dropped its second Big East conference match of the season Saturday night against a tough Rutgers squad.

The Bulls (9-5-0, 7-2-0 Big East) couldn’t seem to find the net against the Scarlet Knights (7-7-2, 4-4-1 Big East), losing 3-0 in a chilly, rain-soaked game at Yurak Field in New Jersey.

USF was held to its lowest shot total of the season, managing only seven attempts on the night – all by different players.

The loss snapped the Bulls’ three-game winning streak and lowered USF’s record to 2-4 in games played away from USF Soccer Stadium.

Coach George Kiefer believes the weather had a lot to do with the way his team played.

“Literally, you couldn’t pass the ball,” Kiefer said. “The ball couldn’t roll on the ground.

“We’re a very possessive team. We’ve won a lot of games with the way we’ve played this year, and in that game, we lost with the way we played.”

Rutgers scored the first goal early in the game with a header shot by forward Adam Sternberger off a free kick at the 13th minute.

The second score came early in the second half with a shot by Sean Cameron past the keeper in the 52nd minute.

Sternberger scored the third and final goal of the night for the Scarlet Knights in the 70th minute, his second of the game. Sternberger, who was named the Big East’s Offensive Player of the Week, now has six goals on the season.

Kiefer said he knows Rutgers is a difficult opponent to play against, no matter where the game is held.

“I thought that Rutgers did a great job,” Kiefer said. “I give them a lot of credit, the way they played on Saturday.”

Despite losing the game, Bulls goalkeeper Dane Brenner tied his season high in saves with six against the Scarlet Knights.

“It was a good learning experience,” Kiefer said.

The Bulls remain in first place atop the Red Division by one point over St. John’s University. USF has two more games left before the regular season ends and the Big East tournament begins Nov. 2. The last two games are against Big East opponents Louisville and Cincinnati, respectively.

The top two seeds in each division get a bye in the first round of the tournament.

Kiefer knows exactly what’s at stake as the season winds down.

“It’s been a goal of ours all year to finish in the top two,” Kiefer said. “It’s a huge priority for us to finish first in the division.”