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Men’s soccer ends season on high note

The Bulls just don’t know when to give up.

The USF men’s soccer team (11-5-0, 9-2-0 Big East) had another come-from-behind victory on Saturday night against Cincinnati (10-6-2, 6-3-2 Big East), winning 2-1 in double overtime.

The victory over the Bearcats was the eighth-straight home win for the Bulls this season. USF hasn’t lost in Tampa since the first game of the season against Florida International University.

Lately, the Bulls have had trouble attaining a good flow early in the game but nevertheless have found a way to finish strong. USF had to mount a comeback to beat Stetson in overtime on Oct. 19 and had to play catch up in order to defeat DePaul University on Oct. 12.

“Overall, I think we did a good job,” sophomore forward Rodrigo Hidalgo said. “We’re still trying to figure out why we come out a little slow, but overall, I think it was a good game, especially preparing ourselves for the quarterfinals next weekend.”

The Bearcats scored first when an attempt by Omar Cummings hit the crossbar and landed right in front of Mike Dwyer, who fired a shot past goalkeeper Dane Brenner, giving Cincinnati the lead, 1-0. It was Dwyer’s fourth goal of the season.

The Bulls were sluggish in the first half, recording a total of only two shots.

In the second half, USF came out strong and put constant pressure on the Bearcats’ defense.USF tied the score when Yohance Marshall headed a shot into the goal off a rebound in the 80th minute. The score was a result from a free kick by Hidalgo that Cincinnati goaltender Mike Vessells initially saved but couldn’t control. Hidalgo was given an assist on the play, his 11th of the season.Hidalgo scored the game-winning shot in double-overtime, a 30-yarder that confused not only the keeper, but also everyone else who was in attendance.

“The ball kind of popped up in the air out of nowhere; I don’t even remember how it popped up,” Hidalgo said. “Then one of their players tried to head it, and it hit on the side of their face. And then it landed on my chest, and then it bounced about three times in front of me, and on the third bounce I decided, ‘Hey, why not?’ and I took the shot while the ball was in the air.

“It was funny because no one really reacted to it, it was just like, ‘Whoa, what just happened?'”

The Bulls’ victory eliminated the Bearcats’ hopes for a first-round bye in the Big East tournament as Cincinnati finished third in the Red Division, behind St. John’s and USF.

Coach George Kiefer was pleased with his team’s performance against the tough Big East rival, an opponent they will likely see again in the near future.

“I think Cincinnati is a very good team,” Kiefer said in a press release. “Their two front guys (Cummings and Kenny Anaba) are two of the more dangerous forwards in the country. I was really happy with how we played.

“This was the best performance that we have put in so far this year as far as moving the ball and keeping possession. It felt like we had the ball for 80 percent of the match. To be able to win in overtime is great. I think this was a very big win for us as far as getting into the NCAA tournament.”