Men’s soccer opens Big East play undefeated: upsets No. 8 Notre Dame, beats Marquette

After struggling through the first four games of its season, the men’s soccer team quickly rebounded when Big East play started. The Bulls shut out No. 8 Notre Dame 2-0 on Friday and came back for a 2-1 victory over Marquette on Sunday.

During both games, No. 21 USF scored two second-half goals in less than three minutes to earn its first two Big East victories of the season.

“It’s really tough trying to get conference wins, especially on the road,” coach George Kiefer said. “To walk away with six points after two road wins in the Big East, that’s a really nice feeling.”

The Bulls’ trip to South Bend was the first since 1985. Goalkeeper Dane Brenner recorded six saves and earned his third shutout of the season.

“The defense has been doing a tremendous job for us all season,” Kiefer said. “(Brenner) has been an anchor for us; he has really made some spectacular saves for us this season.”

Forward Jordan Seabrook scored his second goal of the season during the 85th minute when Simon Schoendorf found him for the breakaway goal. Three minutes later, Schoendorf scored his first goal of the season to secure the victory for USF.

On Sunday, the Bulls rallied after giving up a goal during the 60th minute. Seabrook began the rally as his third goal of the season tied the game.

Less than two minutes later, midfielder Kevon Neaves rebounded his own shot after it was blocked and found forward Rodrigo Hidalgo for his first goal of the season.

“Scoring the game-winning goal was so special for me, especially since it was the first of the season,” Hidalgo said.

“Our team has a great offense, and we’ve proved that by scoring in bunches. Once we get that first goal, then the game opens up for us.”

With two Big East road victories, USF has taken its first step toward repeating as conference champions. Knocking off No. 8 Notre Dame was one goal the team set out at the beginning of the year.

“Notre Dame is a great team, and getting a win in their stadium was great,” Hidalgo said. “We got off to a slow start, but now everyone is on the same page. We just need to keep (the momentum) going for the rest of the season.”

While the Bulls were satisfied with their play over the weekend, Kiefer said his team should use the two games to build upon.

“The thing that I’m real excited about is that we’re not playing at the level we’re capable of,” Kiefer said. “There is still a ton of room for improvement, and I really believe that the team feels that way as well.”